PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 26

OPERATIONS

COVID-19
HIGHLIGHTED
THE NEED
FOR BETTER:
*	 Rural broadband
access
*	 Transportation
infrastructure
*	 Rural access
to testing and
vaccinations

procedures and gear, but also to instill a sense of responsibility to one another to protect the health of all. Many
recognized that one sick individual could cause an entire
facility to shutter, so many companies regarded the manufacturing facility as " the temple, " meaning, if someone
did not have to be there, they were asked to avoid it. This
protected the facility from additional exposure and allowed it to continue producing its essential product for
the marketplace.
Travel stopped, facilities clamped down on visitors,
team schedules changed to allow for greater segregation,
job functions changed to allow for more physical distancing, and daily health screenings became commonplace.
Companies upped their game with regard to cleaning
high-touch surfaces, improving their ventilation systems
and leasing additional facilities, when necessary.
Companies also saw the need for clear, open and
transparent communication about the rapidly changing events. Actions were taken to help remote employees feel connected to the mission, provide employees
with a connection to leadership, build trust in corporate
policies and vision, and clarify misinformation on social
media about COVID-19. During the early days of the
pandemic, companies found communication to be as
big a challenge as safety.
Many companies found that the increased communication helped calm employees' and customers' concerns,
while providing an outlet to ask questions and provide
input on future policies. It also ensured everyone was on
the same page about how the overall corporate strategy
adapted to local and state ordinances affecting individual
facilities and neutralize debates over political opinions.
Human resource managers worked diligently behind the scenes to treat their employees fairly in situations beyond their control. For instance, they reviewed
their corporate leave policies and adjusted as necessary;
adapted their recruitment and retention strategies; and
worked overtime to maintain staff engagement and corporate culture in the new virtual environment.

In the fall, the AFIA hosted several roundtables with plant managers,
human resource managers and C-suite executives to learn how the
coronavirus changed their workplaces. Several key themes of these
discussions emerged:
*	 Employee safety is paramount
*	 Clear, often and timely communication is critical
*	 Investing in the essential workforce now means on and
off the clock
*	 Companies can develop creative solutions to achieve work-life
balance
*	 Making it through the pandemic requires collaboration with
stakeholders

26

PET FOOD PROCESSING | March 2021 | www.petfoodprocessing.net

In addition to keeping their houses in order, pet food
companies coordinated with government representatives and those throughout the industry to ensure the
supply chain could continue humming along. By midMarch 2020, this close collaboration yielded animal
food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and retailers
the designation of " critical infrastructure " in federal
guidance from the Department of Homeland Security's
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. This
proved to be a critical step forward for the industry and
one that the AFIA hopes will stick long-term in state
emergency planning procedures.

" The crisis has exposed
areas where our industry
needs to continue
working to be ready
for the post-COVID-19
business environment. "
Constance Cullman, AFIA

Strategizing for the future

Overall, our industry has adapted remarkably well to
the new way of doing business, as evident in our success in keeping pet food stores stocked with a variety of
animal food products. Moving forward, however, the
crisis has exposed areas where our industry needs to
continue working to be ready for the post-COVID-19
business environment. These include: boosting rural
broadband access so our members in rural areas can stay
better connected with their teams, regulators, suppliers
and customers; enhancing America's transportation infrastructure so US agricultural products can continue
to move freely; and improving rural America's access to
COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
As an association, we will be working this year to
ensure the Biden administration understands that any
new regulations that come out of the pandemic do not
burden our industry unnecessarily without improving
employee safety and health. We will also continue impressing upon Congress the need for bills and actions
that support the long-term economic viability of the US
agriculture industry as it recovers from this recession.
Going forward, I am confident we will be better prepared for any future disease outbreaks - animal or human. We also learned more about our employees and
their essential role in annually producing 9.8 million
tons of dog and cat food for US pets. And hey, we have
even learned a few pets' names too.
PFP


http://www.petfoodprocessing.net

PET Food Processing - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - March 2021

PET Food Processing - March 2021 - Intro
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 1
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 2
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 3
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 4
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 5
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 6
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 7
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 8
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 9
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 10
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 11
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 12
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PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 14
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 15
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 16
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 17
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 18
PET Food Processing - March 2021 - 19
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http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/pet-food-processing-march-2021
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_10_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_10_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_03_01
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