International Fresh Produce Association

Statement on recent DHS vaccine mandate

Late last week, 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 along the Mexico and Canada borders will have to verbally attest 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 they cannot provide proof of vaccination, 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 to protect against the 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 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 produce flowing across North American borders, IFPA chief public policy officer Robert Guenther has already shared the association’s concerns to DHS Assistant Secretary Eva A. Millona on the impact of this on the food supply chain, not just produce, which is already experiencing extreme challenges.

“The fresh produce industry has been proactively encouraging 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,” Guenther said.

Ed Treacy, IFPA vice-president of supply chain and sustainability, added, “while we have been proactively supporting the public health guidelines since November, we are concerned this declaration is being finalized 24 hours from required implementation. This will cause concerns for those responsible for adhering to this requirement as well as border officials implementing this order.”

IFPA will continue working with allied associations and regulatory stakeholders on this issue. IFPA has recently launched a resource page for industry with data, recommended actions and information on steps being taken by the association around supply chain disruptions. 

For more information:
Siobhan May
+1 (302) 781-5855 

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