Georgia FSIS trains peanut graders to follow COVID protocols
The Georgia Federal State Inspection Service in Albany is preparing to hire some 1,000 temporary workers to grade this year’s multimillion-dollar peanut crop at about 130 peanut buying points across Georgia, peanut marketing expert Tyron Spearman recently reported in the Peanut Marketing News.
To make sure COVID-19 safety protocols are followed by workers, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey visited Farmers Gin and Peanut in Moultrie to review plans for keeping workers safe from COVID-19 during the fall harvest.
Dr. Toomey told FSIS staff what to do if an employee becomes infected with the virus and how to prevent further spread among other workers. She suggested identifying someone in each buying point facility whose job would be to educate employees on the proper use of masks and enforce the measures.
Officials said it is critical that Georgians follow the preventive guidance of social distancing, wearing masks or face coverings and frequent handwashing. Commissioner Black said Toomey’s willingness to conduct an in-person safety review will help head off problems down the road, adding, “We need to proactive and plan now for the fall.”
Another virtual meeting was held between state inspection services in mid-August to discuss protocol and safety procedure since there is not a national mandate, but rules are required in each state. The goal is to make sure peanut grading is not delayed as farmers and buying points deliver their peanuts to the buying points.
GA FSIS provides impartial, efficient and accurate inspection services to Georgia’s agricultural community. The agency inspects more than 35 commodities, including peanuts, fruits, vegetables and pecans.
GA FSIS performs voluntary and/or compulsory inspections of products grown and/or marketed across Georgia and in the interstate commerce arena. FSIS also inspects products imported into the U.S. such as onions, peanuts and melons. These inspections determine grade, size, quality, and net weight and are certified on federal or federal-state certificates.