COVID-19 Updates

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COVID-19 Latest

New York Farm Bureau is evaluating the content of our daily COVID-19 alerts and the new information that is coming in each day. Next week, we will be moving to sending out information every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, instead of daily. Of course, if the situation warrants letting you know something sooner, we won’t hesitate to reach out to you any day of the week. We want to make sure each alert is worth your time and full of news that you can use.

 

Please continue to reach out to us if you have questions, comments and suggestions at info@nyfb.org.

 

The Latest from Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefing on COVID-19*

  • Total hospitalizations continue to go down, "just a tick." Net change undeniably on decline, same for three-day average.
  • ICU admissions and intubations continue to decline.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases remains at about 2,000 per day. This has remained steady for a while.
  • We are currently in Phase 1 of reducing the infection rate and ramping up the hospital system. We will soon be starting transition to Phase 2, which consists of planning reopening, testing/tracing/isolating, and reducing the infection spread rate.
  • The state has not calculated the rate of infection in areas upstate.
  • The Governor reiterated the importance of reopening the economy as soon as possible, as well as the possibility of regions with lower death rates opening sooner than others. He also focused on the importance of balancing economic and personal need with public health need.
  • Governor named this as a transformational period and said we must make changes when reopening society. Must learn from impacts on the public health system, especially as it pertains to increasing bed capacity and emergency response capacity.
  • Currently do not have a testing system capable of meeting volume need. The state has 301 laboratories and hospitals licensed for virology testing, must have them operate in a coordinated way.
  • The Governor reiterated challenges in obtaining supplies for testing due to international competition.
  • Need a fully synchronized, statewide testing system.
  • Executive order will direct all public and private labs to coordinate and work together.

*Courtesy NY StateWatch

 

Gov. Cuomo has extended the Pause Act to May 15, which mandates non-essential workers to work from home and a six-foot social distancing space be observed in public places. Click here for more.

 

For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.

 

NYFB COVID-19 Town Hall Event Recording

NYFB held a Zoom meeting for members Wednesday night that allowed them to ask questions of leading farm officials and agricultural partners about the COVID-19 response, guidance and assistance. Valuable information was shared to help farms make the best decisions for their families, employees and operations. Click here to listen to the recording.

 

Potential COVID-19 Risk Factors for Farmers

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) would like to make farmers aware of the unique factors that may put them at increased risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19. Even though most farmers in New York live outside the major ‘hot-spot’ areas, there is still reason to be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing, and using fabric face coverings in public. COVID-19 positive patients have been reported in every single New York State county.

   

While some people experience little to no symptoms though they have COVID-19, people who are older, have asthma, are men, or have underlying health conditions are at increased risk of severe illness. NYCAMH research published in 2015 showed that Upstate New York farmers (men) had an increased rate of asthma and uncontrolled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) over their rural male neighbors. No surprise, the latest Census of Agriculture also shows our farmers are growing older, and the majority of those in farming are still men, who are at higher risk.

   

While farmers are so often willing to take care of everyone else first, please don’t ignore the important symptoms of COVID-19. If you begin to experience fever, dry cough, headaches, or shortness of breath contact your primary healthcare provider. You can also contact the NYS Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. COVID-19 testing is free in New York State.

   

Need advice on how to cope with the flood of changes that COVID-19 has brought to your family, business and workers? Contact NYCAMH at 1-800-343-7527 or visit our COVID-19 website where we can help with stress management through its Farm Partners Program.

 

PPP Funds Exhausted

On Thursday, April 16, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reached its authorization limit in the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). SBA announced it will no longer accept any new loan applications for the PPP because SBA is unable to maintain a virtual queue. This means that lenders will no longer be able to load PPP applications into the system and PPP loan amounts may not be adjusted by lenders within the system. Additionally, SBA will no longer accept new lender applications to become PPP lenders. The Administration and Congress have begun negotiations to add additional funding to the PPP.

 

Farm Bureau is advocating for Congress to authorize additional funding for the PPP to assist businesses, including farm operations, impacted by COVID-19. Farmers should continue consulting with their accountant, tax preparer and/or financial advisor about the PPP application for their particular situation because once Congress appropriates additional funding, it’s likely to become available on a first-come, first served basis.

 

Meat Sales Reminder

During these trying times, farm businesses are thinking creatively for ways to expand their markets and cash flows. Selling meat off the farm is one of those ideas. While it sounds practical, it can have dire consequences for local farms and the industry in general if individuals do not follow proper safety procedures and protocols. One tainted package of “off the farm” meat that sickens someone, will have lasting effects.

 

Individuals are reminded to follow all state and federal requirements for the sales of meat including the sales of animals as well as packaged meat. Guidance on meat regulations and sales can be found here and here.

 

Article 20-C Food Processing Licenses Extended

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture and Markets is offering a 45-day extension of 20-C licenses that expire between April 16 and May 31, 2020. At the end of the 45-day period, a completed 20-C food-processing license, along with the full applicable fee, must be received by the Department. Learn more about this extension here.

 
Compliance Corner

 

Time Off From Work to Vote in Elections in New York

New York law has long provided for time off from work to vote. Several major changes to this law went into effect April 1, 2019, including allowing registered voters to take up to three hours off working time to vote, in any election, with no loss of pay.

 

The budget legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo on April 3, 2020 includes an amendment to the Election Law that reverts to the pre-2019 law regarding time off to vote.

 

Employees are once again only entitled to two hours of paid time off to vote only if there is insufficient time outside of their normal work hours to do so. If an employee has four consecutive hours either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of his or her working shift, or between the end of his or her working shift and the closing of the polls, he or she shall be deemed to have sufficient time outside his or her working hours within which to vote. For a fact sheet on the details of this law, click here.

 

Permanent Paid Sick Leave in New York

The New York State Budget Bill signed by Gov. Cuomo on April 3, 2020 enacts a new Paid Sick Leave program that requires all employers in New York, regardless of size, to provide annual sick leave to their employees. In most circumstances, the leave must be paid. This law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021. Highlights of the law include:

 

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees must provide 1 hour of unpaid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in a calendar year.
  • Employers with between 5 and 99 employees must provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in a calendar year.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year.

 

Current employees will begin accruing leave Sept. 30, 2020, 180 days after the Budget Bill was signed. Employers should begin now implementing policies and procedures to comply with the law. NYFB has prepared a comprehensive fact sheet for its members on this new law that can be found here.

 

Syngenta Lawsuit Update

In what is believed to be the largest agricultural litigation settlement in U.S. history, a $1.51 billion settlement was reached in March 2018 in the nationwide class action lawsuit filed in Kansas federal court over the release of Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade corn traits. Approved by the Court in December, 2018, the settlement covers all U.S. corn producers – farmers and crop-share landlords – as well as grain handling facilities and ethanol plants nationwide who sold corn priced after Sept. 15, 2013.

 

On Feb. 28, 2020 the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas entered an order authorizing the Claims Administrator to make interim payments to certain Class Members that have:

  • Received a Notice of Determination that has not been appealed and the time to appeal has expired; and
  • Submitted all required payment documents, including W-9 forms and Representative Claimant documents, if applicable.

 

Interim payments began mailing beginning in March 2020 Claims that meet the criteria for receiving interim payments will receive a portion of their estimated final payment amount.

 

Submit a W-9 Form Today

If you received a Notice of Determination but have not yet submitted a W-9 form, click “Submit My W-9 Form” below. The Internal Revenue Service requires that the Claims Administrator verify the identity and Taxpayer Identification Number of each Class Member before issuing payment. You cannot be paid unless you submit a W-9 form. Submitting this online means that you will be paid sooner. A comprehensive fact sheet on this lawsuit may be found here

 

 

Compliance Corner alerts are provided as a member service by the NYFB Legal Affairs Department. While the information in this publication is about legal issues, it is provided for informational purposes only; it is not intended to be, nor should it be considered, a substitute for legal advice. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein. If you have any questions about the application of the issues raised herein to your particular situation, seek the advice of a competent attorney.

 

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NY FarmNet is Open

Please keep these numbers and websites available to call or share should you, a family member or friends need someone to speak with in these uncertain times.

FarmNet
Support is available at 1-800-547-3276 and www.nyfarmnet.org

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 (TALK), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

 

Crisis Text Line
Text “GOT 5” to 741-741, www.crisistextline.org

 

 

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If you have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your agricultural operation, please give New York Farm Bureau a call at 518-436-8495. 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.

 

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  • For previous NYFB COVID-19 alerts and the latest info, click here.
  • 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.
  • COVID-19 Guidance from NYSDAM is available on its website. The department has also published a general resource guide for the agricultural community.