On May 4, 2020, we advised you of our process adjustments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our plans are evolving, like this whole pandemic, and we want to keep you updated on the current status of our activities. Like many federal and state agencies we are making plans to ‘carefully’ get back to our routine activities. I appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work our way back.
We are in the process of making final preparations to restart routine inspections. As the inspectors start back they will be prioritizing inspections at facilities that have had recent direct or critical non-compliances. We are also prioritizing applicants for new licenses whose facilities have not yet been inspected. And we will continue to inspect when we become aware of serious complaints or concerns.
The inspection process will look somewhat different. Appropriate personal protective equipment and distancing is required at all times for your safety and that of our inspectors. We will ask some initial screening questions to make sure it is safe to conduct the inspection and appreciate your cooperation. Depending on the situation, your records review and exit briefing may be conducted remotely after the facility inspection. Some facilities may have additional safety concerns or staffing limitations, and we will work with you to accomplish the inspection safely.
Finally, we know that there are geographic considerations with some parts of the country seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases. Animal Care is closely watching the situation to find the right time to begin routine inspections in each state and county. The process for considering all of these factors and making decisions about inspections is outlined in an SOP on our website.
We are committed to working with you to keep the process safe and look forward to continuing our work to assure the humane care and treatment of the animals. Please contact us at Animal.Care@usda.gov if you have any questions or concerns and stay safe.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.