Secretary Sonny Perdue and Butterball employees in safety vests and hardhats at a turkey plant
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visits a Butterball turkey processing plant in Mount Olive, NC, in 2019.

The challenges facing our country right now are unprecedented, but that has not stopped the turkey industry from stepping up to the plate to fulfill the sudden surge in demand for food in grocery stores. Now, maybe more than ever, Americans need confidence that food is available and plentiful to feed their families. The essential workers that sustain the turkey industry provide just that.

As the COVID-19 crisis gained momentum, NTF recognized the need for quick, early, effective action to overcome several regulatory, legislative and logistical hurdles and ensure the industry remained operational. One of NTF’s primary areas of focus was securing “essential” critical workforce designation for turkey industry employees.

So, what does this mean? NTF worked with the federal government to ensure food and agriculture employees were deemed “essential,” meaning these industries can continue operating despite work from home or shelter-in-place orders. While the federal government made this designation, ultimately each state must recognize this status. NTF continues to work with members across the country to ensure that state and local decrees do not interfere with employees’ ability to report to work.

Hexagonal shapes of varying blue and green

Did You Know? The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is responsible for identifying critical industries and workers. Learn more about CISA’s role during COVID-19.

Our workforce is essential, and our products are essential. NTF is grateful for the hard work and dedication of the men and women on the farm, in the plant and everywhere in between who play a role in the production, processing and delivery of turkey products. The turkey industry has done a phenomenal job reassuring Americans in this time of need, and the federal government – along with state and local governments – have supported these efforts by ensuring the industry can continue doing what we do best – providing healthy, delicious food for American families.