International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962 Member Alert
January 21, 2022 — Last night during a call with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, the International Fresh Produce Association was briefed that, effective January 22, 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would begin enforcing a requirement for entry into the U.S. for essential workers.
In summary, all non-U.S. individuals crossing at points of entry (land, bridge, and ferry terminals) along the Mexico and Canada borders will have to verbally attest that they are fully vaccinated with one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccines (booster shots not required) and provide proof of vaccination to CBP officers upon request. If an individual cannot provide a proof of vaccination when requested, they will be denied entry into the U.S.
This enforcement will not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful U.S. permanent residents, or U.S. nationals.
Since early 2020, the Administrations of Presidents Trump and Biden have issued a series of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations governing the admission of non-citizens to the United States at air, sea and land ports in order to protect against the global spread of COVID. These restrictions were comprehensive by visa category and by country.?“Essential” workers, including H2A workers and truck drivers, were previously exempt from these restrictions.
As the virus evolved and vaccinations became more widely available, President Biden issued a Proclamation in October 2021 indicating travel restrictions would be lifted for all travelers seeking admission at air ports of entry who could provide proof of CDC approved vaccination or who met certain very limited exceptions. This order took effect in November and the Administration indicated an order and guidance for admission at the land borders would follow to take effect January 22, 2022.
Given the volumes of fresh fruits and vegetables that flow across North American borders, IFPA Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther has already shared the associations concerns to DHS Assistant Secretary Eva A. Millona?on the impact this is going to have on the entire food supply chain, not just produce, which is already experiencing extreme challenges.
“The fresh produce industry has been proactively encouraging our employers and employees to comply with federal, state and local requirements regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccinations with significant success. We’ve continued to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the global food supply chain despite disruptions caused by health and labor challenges. Part of prioritizing public health and safety is ensuring access to a safe, abundant food supply remains uninterrupted,” he noted.
IFPA Vice President of Supply Chain and Sustainability Ed Treacy added, “while we have been proactively supporting the public health guidelines since the first reports of this policy in November, we are concerned that this final declaration is being finalized 24 hours from its required implementation. In turn, this will cause great concerns for those responsible for adhering to this requirement as well as officials at the border who have to implement this new order starting tomorrow.”
IFPA will continue to analyze and work with allied associations and regulatory stakeholders on this issue, including the availability of acceptable vaccines, the clarity of what is acceptable for travel and work in the U.S., and the continued discussions over exemptions for essential workers and who qualifies.
IFPA has recently launched a resource page for the produce and floral industries with data, recommended actions and information on steps being taken by the association to support the industries and mitigate the challenges caused by supply chain disruptions.