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Governor's Executive Order Provides Exemption for Michigan Agriculture

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Foster Swift Agricultural Law News E-blast
March 24, 2020

Coronavirus Small BusinessPursuant to Executive Order 2020-21 (“EO 2020-21”) that was released on March 23, 2020, Governor Whitmer has issued a “stay-at-home” order. The stay-at-home order, also known as shelter-in-place, is intended to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19. EO 2020-21 orders individuals to stay at their place of residence until April 13, 2020, unless they are partaking in an outdoor activity, obtaining essential supplies like groceries, caring for a family member, or reporting to work at an exempt business. EO 2020-21 provides a broad exemption for Michigan agriculture so that farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses can continue to provide Michiganders (and others) with a safe, healthy, and reliable supply of food and products during these challenging times.

The agriculture exemption in EO 2020-21 includes all of the following:

  • Food manufacturer employees, and their supplier’s employees. This includes food processing facilities--packers, meat processors, cheese plants, milk plants, and animal feed processing facilities (including pet feed), as well as packaging facilities.
  • Farm workers and support service workers, including those who manage crops; perform commodity inspections; provide truck delivery and other transport; fuel and ethanol facilities; storage facilities;  and other agricultural inputs.
  • Farm workers employed in the production of animal feed and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution.
  • Veterinary drug manufacturers, packagers, and distributors.
  • Fishery employees.
  • Animal agriculture workers, including those employed in veterinary health and in live animal transport.
  • Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forestry products, including timber, paper, and other wood products.
  • Farm equipment manufacturing and maintenance businesses.

As the Governor’s Order recognized, these exemptions were necessary to continue to produce our food supply domestically. For more complete information, please see the order at EO 2020-21. As this situation evolves, more information can be found at Michigan.gov/coronavirus.

If your business falls within the agriculture exemption, you need to designate each pertinent employee as a critical infrastructure worker, as defined by EO 2020-21 and its exemptions for agriculture.This designation needs to be in writing, but can be contained in an electronic message, public website, or any other appropriate format. We recommend providing your employees with a document stating the company’s name, the name of the employee, and that your company is engaged in agricultural and/or food production in Michigan that falls within the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21) exemption for agricultural production.. The document should also provide a point of contact within your company to field any questions that may arise.

For questions regarding this communication, please contact:

Foster Swift is ready and able to assist any business in making the determination about whether it is exempt, or to answer any other questions you may have regarding the impact of COVID-19 on your business. Please contact your Foster Swift attorney or one of the designated Coronavirus Task Force Coordinators: