Delaware Department of Agriculture adjusting to coronavirus outbreak

Michael Scuse

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Agriculture continues to provide services to the public and industry to ensure that the food supply remains safe and plentiful for consumers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“As Delaware’s No. 1 industry, family farms are crucial to supplying a variety of food from poultry and meats, fruits and vegetables, and many value-added products,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We take the health and safety of our employees seriously, but we realize that even during the outbreak, that we have a duty to our constituents.

“The department will remain open, but we will be making changes to minimize risk to our employees.”

Farmers will be active over the next few months as planting season is underway.

The state’s poultry industry plays a critical role in feeding citizens and supplying an abundant, healthy source of protein.

“It is extremely important that the entire vertically integrated chain of poultry production remain functioning at full capacity and that everyone in that chain is doing their part to assure chicken is available for purchase,” Secretary Scuse said. “Of course, one vital part of that chain is the processing of the birds at our poultry processing plants. Workers are commended for what they do to feed our citizens and are encouraged to give extraordinary effort in these challenging times.

“We have the most abundant, affordable, and safest food supply in the world, due to the invaluable contributions of everyone involved in food production Their participation in feeding Delaware and America is essential.”

Agriculture and food production are essential industries that provide food and fiber for all and play a critical role in the state’s economy.

“During this difficult time, I want to offer encouragement to all our family farmers, producers, agribusinesses, wholesalers, distributors, consumers and the many other members of Delaware’s food supply chain in the state who are working hard to continue business as usual with minimal interruptions,” said Mr. Scuse.

Secretary Scuse has asked for flexibility from the public as guidance surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change. Members of the public are encouraged to call ahead before coming to the department. Non-essential meetings are being canceled or moved to online/teleconference to enable social distancing.

• Agriculture Compliance Lab: Samples must be dropped off in the entrance of the lab.

• Communications and Marketing: The informational grant workshop scheduled for March 24 is canceled. If you have questions, contact Jo-Ann Walston at 302-698-4592 or email joann.walston@delaware.gov. Guidance is being developed for farmers’ markets and on-farm markets.

• Delaware Standardbred Breeders’ Fund: Delaware Standardbred Breeder’s Fund Races are not scheduled until June at Harrington. Yearling and 2-year-old payments due on May 15 and should be mailed or paid online by credit card.

• Food Products Inspection: The Produce Safety Alliance training scheduled for March 24 has been postponed. The On-Farm Entrepreneurs Food Safety Training with University of Delaware Extension has been postponed. Dates will be announced in the future. There are no changes currently for customer contact information.

• Delaware Forest Service: Until further notice, the Redden Lodge is closed. All state forest campsites are closed, and no gatherings of more than 25 people are permitted on state forest property. All Arbor Day events are canceled.

• Delaware Harness Racing Commission: Until further notice, casinos and racetracks in Delaware are closed. The Delaware Harness Racing Commission has canceled out monthly meetings for March and April and will provide any needed public information electronically.

• Nutrient Management: Farm visits will be limited to reduce the chance of spreading coronavirus.

• Pesticide Management: All pesticide testing has been canceled until further notice. Any insect samples can be left at the front desk along with your contact information.

• Plant Industries: All seed for testing should be placed in the large mailbox outside the building marked Seed Lab. Hemp Producer applications should be emailed, and changes are coming to the physical license.

• Poultry and Animal Health: Samples may be brought to the front lobby for submission. No one will be able to walk samples back to the labs.

• Thoroughbred Racing Commission: Until further notice, casinos and racetracks in Delaware are closed. The stable has been opened for training.

• Weights and Measures: Complaints should be submitted using the online complaint form at https://agriculture.delaware.gov/weights-measures/.

For more updated information related to the Department of Agriculture and COVID-19, refer to https://agriculture.delaware.gov/news. For the latest information related to Delaware’s response to COVID-19, visit https://de.gov/coronavirus.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

Have a question about the coronavirus? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll ask the appropriate public officials.


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