FILE PHOTO: CNHvaluation1

FILE PHOTO: A model 8120 combine rolls off the assembly line at CNH. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Because of COVID-19, the Case New Holland manufacturing facility in Grand Island will temporarily suspend operations after Thursday.

General Manager Mike Schaefer said Tuesday morning that CNH Industrial has continued to operate in recent weeks to ensure that the company keeps up with the needs for agricultural equipment, specifically harvesting equipment.

He pointed out that CNH Industrial has ”implemented extensive measures to protect our employees, as well as to help in the fight to contain the spread of the pandemic.”

Nevertheless, the company decided to suspend production at its Grand Island operation later this week “in light of the continuing emergency” caused by the virus. The step is being taken to “keep our workforce safe in these unprecedented times,” Schaefer said.

“We will be re-evaluating the situation on a weekly basis,” he said at a COVID-19 community update hosted by Mayor Roger Steele.

Schaefer said that CNH Industrial puts “the health and well-being of its entire workforce first.”

“CNH Industrial’s COVID-19 global task force is constantly monitoring and evaluating the fast-changing situation,” and is working closely with local and national health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.

The corporation has been leveraging the experience it has acquired in China “and more recently rolling out best practices across all regions in which it operates,” he said.

The company has stepped up the cleaning of all work and rest areas, changing rooms and related facilities in all locations. Schaefer described the work as “intensive sanitizing and deep cleaning.” Social distancing is being maintained throughout all CNH Industrial facilities.

“We will make additional adjustments as necessary while continuing to find solutions for our workforce, customers, dealers and suppliers,” he said.

“Our Grand Island facility has its own medical clinic, headed by Dr. Tom Werner, that takes care of CNH Industrial employees and retirees,” Schaefer said.

He was joined at Tuesday’s briefing by Werner, who did not speak.

“The clinic has been working closely with the plant to review all health and safety protocols and advice on how to best implement CDC guidelines,” Schaefer said. “The clinic has been a valuable asset in recent weeks, and was also able to provide testing when deemed necessary.

“Agriculture is essential for a safe and reliable food supply. Supporting local agriculture is now more important than ever,” and CNH Industrial takes that responsibility seriously, he said.

“We serve the farming community to ensure food supply and therefore we are part of the essential, critical infrastructure industry as defined by the U.S. government,” Schaefer said.

“The Grand Island facility manufactures agricultural equipment, including combine harvesters, that are very time-sensitive products, as they need to be in the field when the crop is ready,” he said.

“Farmers in some parts of the U.S. are planting crops to prepare for another growing season, while other farmers in other sections are in need of harvesting equipment to bring in their produce,” Schaefer said.

Steele said it was good to hear from Schaefer Tuesday “because it provides an explanation of why so many of our manufacturing businesses are open.”

“Grand Island is unique in that we have several manufacturers who are considered as offering critical infrastructure under rules published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” he said.

Agriculture and food production both provide critical infrastructure “for America and we desire that those industries continue operating even though we have a COVID-19 pandemic,” Steele said.

Schaefer and JBS General Manager Zach Ireland, who spoke last week, “showed you that they are very much aware of the need to protect their employees from COVID-19,” Steele said.

Because CNH operates worldwide, the company is “on the frontline of developing strategies to deal with COVID-19 in all of their facilities around the world,” Steele said.

He said he appreciates reports from companies such as CNH Industrial “because they tell us that everybody in this community wants the best for all of us, whether we’re able to stay at home or whether we have to return to work.”

The mayor also appreciates the “thoughtfulness of CNH in closing for a while to re-evaluate where they should go in the future, given the progress of COVID-19 in our community.”

Because of COVID-19, the Case New Holland manufacturing facility in Grand Island will suspend production after Thursday.

When the facility reopens will depend on the progress of the virus.

The announcement was made this morning by Mike Schaefer, who is general manager of the Grand Island plant. Schaefer spoke at a COVID-19 community update, hosted by Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele.

Schaefer was joined at the update by Dr. Tom Werner, who is medical director for CNH in Grand Island.

Production is being halted temporarily out of concern for the safety of the company’s workers.

Schaefer noted that the Grand Island facility has a clinic for current and retired employees, which has been very helpful in recent weeks.

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