As we approach the daunting one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic and as we collectively strive to put the virus behind us, we are thankful for Governor Mills and the administration’s leadership and unwavering approach to protect Mainers’ safety.
On Friday, February 12th, the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association and a coalition of food and agriculture industries requested continued prioritization in Maine’s phase 1b COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan directly to Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew in a co-signed letter.
Our sector has worked tirelessly to ensure consistent and safe access to food and we are eager to continue to do so with a vaccinated workforce.
Dear Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew,
cc: Commissioner Johnson and Commissioner Beal
On behalf of the Maine’s food and beverage manufacturers, agriculture and aquaculture industry, food retailers and distribution partners, thank you for your leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We greatly appreciate the steps your administration has taken to keep Mainers safe as well as your tireless efforts to plan for the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, as laid out in Maine’s COVID-19 Interim Draft Vaccination Plan. We strongly support the draft plan’s prioritization of food and agriculture critical front-line workers, including migrant and seasonal workers, after the Phase 1 initial allocations targeting healthcare workers, elderly Mainers, and those most at-risk from coronavirus.
As you know, in order to keep the food supply chain running and Americans nourished during the ongoing health crisis, the federal government designated the food and agriculture sector as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. As a result, the food industry has continued, bolstered, and at times shifted operations to ensure families could access our products and stay safe. Our sector has continued to work throughout the duration of the pandemic, and we are all grateful for their hard work and dedication.
It is imperative that food and beverage manufacturers, the agriculture and aquaculture industry, food retailers and our distribution partners continue to operate as part of critical infrastructure to ensure a safe and readily available food supply. We must ensure that our food supply operates uninterrupted, and we can only do so by ensuring these employees, both seasonal and full time, permanent or temporary residents, are protected.
Maine’s food system accounts for 13.3% of Maine’s employment sector and we respectfully request that Maine’s vaccination plan continues to prioritizes food industry workers for vaccinations behind healthcare workers and high-risk populations consistent with both the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook and the National Academies of Sciences’ final framework for COVID-19 vaccines allocation. Again, thank you for your leadership, and we appreciate your consideration.
Maine Aquaculture Association
Maine Beverage Association
Maine Dairy Industry Association
Maine Farm Bureau Association
Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association
Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association
Maine Potato Board
Maine Sustainable Ag Society
Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine