JEFFERSON CITY – In Wednesday's, March 25, press briefing, Gov. Mike Parson assured Missourian’s the state’s food supply remains strong and emphasized the important role of the food and agriculture industry in Missouri’s COVID-19 responses.

Meeting demands

“Missouri’s food supply is as strong as the men and women who drive our trucks and tractors,” Parson said. “Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses are critical pieces of our society at all times, especially right now. I want every worker and employer involved in the food industry to know that your work has never been more important.”

Parson said the Missouri Department of Agriculture is working closely with partners to maintain the state’s food supply chain.

In coordination with MDA and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Parson approved a request from DHSS Director Randall Williams to create a consistent directive across local governments for any individual or business that is part of the supply chain.

According to a release on the effort, farmers, ranchers, agriculture businesses and grocery stores are encouraged to continue essential business functions to feed Missouri citizens.

Supporting Missouri businesses and workers

In the press briefing, Parson also outlined steps being taken by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and the Missouri Department of Economic Development to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response.

DOLIR is adjusting administration of the state’s unemployment insurance program. The following measures will be temporarily implemented:

• relaxed work search requirement for COVID-19-related claims;

• waived waiting week for unemployment insurance claims filed due to COVID-19; and

• no charging COVID-19-related claims on employers’ unemployment insurance accounts, helping employers avoid negative impact on their payroll tax rate.

"These measures will reduce the process time of claims while still maintaining the due process requirements for both employers and workers," states the release. Employers are still notified that a claim has been filed, and they have the opportunity to protest the reason for the claim.

DED is also taking action during the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition to Missouri’s approval for assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, DED reached out to business leaders across the state to see how the department can assist during this challenging time. DED is also exploring repurposing Community Development Block Grant funds.

Together, DED, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, Health and Senior Services and the Office of Administration partnered with the Cole County Commission and Missouri Association of Councils of Government to provide CDBG funds to purchase 125 ventilators to aid in the statewide response.

An estimated $2.8 million in CDBG funding will be used for the purchase and distribution of the ventilators. The goal is to provide hospitals and first responders with the necessary equipment to perform life-saving measures.

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