New York Farm Bureau will be sending daily alerts at this time to keep you up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news that may affect you, your farm family and employees. We know things are constantly changing, but we will do our best to keep you informed, offer guidance and share ways you may be able to help. We will do this for as long as it is necessary. NYFB is a community, and we are all in this together.
Governor Cuomo’s Latest Update from his Morning Briefing
- The apex of the infection rate is forecasted for 5/1, but the curve is increasing, and the new apex is forecasted to hit in the next 14 to 21 days.
- New projected hospital beds needed are at 140,000, with 40,000 ICU beds.
- Hydroxychoroquine and Zithromax trials will start today.
- NYS Department of Health is still pursuing plasma injection as well as antibody testing.
- Gov. Cuomo planned to speak with all hospital administrators today on increasing capacity.
- Gov. Cuomo is speaking with hotel owners to discuss conversion of locations. He will use SUNY and CUNY dorms as well.
- NYS is experimenting with splitting ventilators in order to cover two people simultaneously.
- Still pushing feds to use federal Defense Production Act.
- Gov. Cuomo is urging U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Azar to release 20,000 ventilators to the state.
- FEMA is sending 400 ventilators, but the need is projected to be 30,000.
- Gov. Cuomo says he will take personal responsibility for transporting federal stockpile ventilators to the next region where needed once the state crests over apex.
- Gov. Cuomo discussed bringing lower risk people back into the workforce and recovered people at some point to ramp up the economy with available workers. He reiterates that the crisis facing the state today is hospital capacity and saving lives is the priority.
For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.
Horticultural Operations Deemed “Essential” By New York State
After days of advocacy by New York Farm Bureau and other organizations, today the Governor recognized horticultural operations in New York as essential and not subject to the workforce restrictions outlined in his Executive Order 202.6. This also applies to the supply chain that supports the industry.
Official interim guidance for the horticulture industry from the Department of Agriculture and Markets can be found here.
New York State Budget Update
Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the Legislature and Governor continue to negotiate a final state budget, which is due by April 1. New York Farm Bureau’s Public Policy staff continues to connect daily with the Governor’s office, legislators and staff to advocate for critical agricultural budget funding, along with needed language changes to clarify the recently-enacted farm labor law (among many other legislative issues).
Guidance Document for Equine Operations
Cornell Cooperative Extension has recently released a guidance document for equine operations, horse boarding businesses and riding facilities in relation to COVID-19. This document refers to the guidance from NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, but gives specific information on equine operation activities that are essential and non-essential. Click here to view this document.
In compliance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.8, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices and auto bureaus statewide are closed until further notice. This includes both state- and county-run field offices. Road tests are also suspended until further notice. Also, all in-office reservations and salvage vehicle examinations appointments will be canceled. Any driver license, non-driver ID or vehicle registration set to expire on or after March 1, 2020 will be extended until further notice. This extension does not apply to insurance coverage requirements. Motor vehicle liability insurance coverage must be maintained during this extension period. Also, at this time, this extension does not apply to vehicle safety inspections. Motorists are still required to get an annual New York State safety inspection before their current inspection expires. DMV is still offering many transactions through the website, such as renewing a license, renewing a registration and pleading or paying a New York City traffic ticket. DMV will continue to post any COVID-19 related updates on the website.
NYCAMH Cancelling Many Respirator Fit Test Clinics to prevent Coronavirus Spread
New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health will be cancelling many of its upcoming respirator fit-testing clinics scheduled throughout the state. This decision was made after the number of N-95 masks has become scarce and after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) decided not to require pesticide handlers who received fit test in 2019 to be refitted.
This temporary exemption applies to pesticide handlers that were fit-tested during the 2019 season and who have not gained or lost 20 pounds or more or who have not had any dental or facial surgery that would impact the fit of a respirator.
For more information on NYCAMH clinic cancellations, click here. As we get further guidance from DEC on this exemption, we will keep you informed.
Pesticide Applicator Online Courses
Cornell Cooperative Extension has produced online pesticide applicator courses. These are accepted in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia and most of New England. Find a list of approved courses for New York 2020 here.
These courses adhere to New York State regulations (6 NYCRR 325.18) and have been approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Therefore, when you take an on-line recertification course, you must follow the same rules (described below) as you would when you attend live recertification training.
- We will check the amount of time spent before sending your official certificate. If you complete the course in under the required time, you forfeit your purchase and will not receive credits.
- The applicator earning credits must be the one taking and completing the course. Anyone using a substitute course taker is committing fraud and will forfeit their course fee and will not receive credits.
- A course may not be repeated in a recertification cycle. There are no limits on the number of different courses you can select. Maximum hours of training is 7 per day.
Questions Regarding Emergency Paid Family Leave and Disability? There’s a website for that!
As you know, New York State employers have a new paid time off mandate for any of their employees under a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the Department of Health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such an order due to COVID-19. This does not apply to any non-essential business closed as a result of any executive order, layoff, or any other employee leave request. This new required emergency sick time is (for employers of less than 100 employees) supplemented by enhanced Paid Family Leave (PFL) and NYS Disability (DBL) benefits.
The state has created a new website to answer your questions about this new program. You can find that here. This should be your first resource for questions regarding the new New York State Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law.
NYFB Issues Recommendations to Congress to Assist Farmers Impacted by Coronavirus
NYFB has provided New York Congressional members with a list of recommendations for assisting farmers during the national emergency to address the Coronavirus outbreak. NYFB’s recommendations include efforts to address labor shortages, financial assistance through USDA, support for rural broadband and healthcare, as well as financial support for businesses, including farms, that have been impacted by COVID-19 related closures. Congress continues to work on a legislative package to assist businesses and individuals impacted by the Coronavirus including provisions for the agriculture industry. A copy of NYFB’s recommendations can be found here. If an agreement is reached, NYFB will provide updates on the specific details of the legislative package.
DOT Provides Temporary Waiver for CDLs and Medical Cards
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a Notice of Enforcement Policy and Waiver regarding expiring driver licenses and medical examiner certificates–for drivers who had current credentials as of March 1–allowing FMCSA to exercise its enforcement discretion to not take action in certain cases when a commercial learner's permit, CDL or medical certificate is expired. This Notice is effective from March 24, 2020, through June 30, 2020. A copy of the Enforcement Policy can be found here and a copy of the Waiver can be found here.
FDA Helps Facilitate Veterinary Telemedicine During Pandemic
As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing commitment to combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and providing flexibility across FDA-regulated industries, the agency announced today that it intends to temporarily not enforce certain requirements in order to allow veterinarians to better utilize telemedicine to address animal health needs during the pandemic.
The agency intends to temporarily suspend enforcement of portions of the federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements relevant to certain FDA regulations. The VCPR is the professional relationship between the veterinarian, client (e.g. animal owner or caretaker), and the animal patient(s). The federal VCPR definition requires that veterinarians physically examine animal patients and/or make medically-appropriate and timely visits to the location where the animal(s) are kept. Therefore, the federal VCPR definition cannot be met solely through telemedicine. A copy of the announcement can be found here.
NY FarmNet Is Open for Calls
NY FarmNet, which offers free consultant services on topics like business planning and mental health, is open and available to take calls at 1-800-547-3276. These calls are toll-free, confidential, and available 24-7. This is not the number to reach New York Farm Bureau.
Following the guidelines of health and government officials in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, NY FarmNet is temporarily limiting face-to-face meetings, visits to farms, educational events, etc. They will work with farmers and agri-service via phone, email, and webinar. Their hotline will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by a live person. NY FarmNet remains committed to providing technical assistance in farm business management and personal well-being to New York’s farm community. Visit NY FarmNet’s website here.
#StillFarming on Social Media
The Coronavirus may have shut down much of our daily lives in New York State, but farmers are still in their fields and barns, day-in and day-out. Whether they’re readying the soil for spring planting, tending to their fruit trees and greenhouses, feeding and milking their dairy cows or looking after their cattle, chickens and pigs, farmers take very seriously their commitment to fill grocery store shelves with safe, affordable food.
Please share how you are still farming on social media to reassure consumers that the food system is open for business, and how you and your employees are making health and safety a priority. Please use the hashtag #StillFarming on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
NYFB Promotion and Education Suggestions for Families
While children may be doing schoolwork from home, there are a number of educational opportunities for young people to learn about food and farming. NYFB’s Foundation for Agricultural Education has resources listed on NYFB’s Pro-Ed page, including by age group. Click here to explore.
If you have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your agricultural operation, please give New York Farm Bureau a call. We can only help those who ask. Who knows, maybe your question will cause us to get ahead of a problem instead of reacting to it after it has become a problem.
• Click here for the latest information from New York State on COVID-19.
• The CDC has created a website for the latest news on the virus. Click here to access it.