COVID-19 Updates

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COVID-19 Latest

 

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

  • The overall hospitalization rate is dropping, but hospitalizations were flat yesterday.
  • Intubations and new cases are still down.
  • 337 new deaths yesterday: 313 in hospitals / 24 in nursing homes.

Testing:

  • The state has tested 7,500 people for antibodies.
  • 14.9% of people tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
  • Additional drive-thru testing sites will be opened.
    • People must call in advance to schedule an appointment

Reopening

  • Governor Cuomo reiterated that the NYS on PAUSE order is set to expire on May 15 and can be extended if there is a need.
  • Guidelines for reopening:
    • Follow CDC guidelines
    • Industries, Phase I, including construction/manufacturing
    • A business plan that includes social distancing/monitoring
    • Healthcare capacity
    • Develop testing and tracing regimens
    • Develop isolation facilities
    • Follow regional coordination
    • No "attractive nuisances"
    • Any popular points for tourists
    • Places where people will flood
  • There are four factors for monitoring:
    • Hospitalization rate
    • Antibody testing
    • Diagnostic testing
    • The rate of transmission

Food

  • Food banks are seeing an increase in demand.
  • Governor Cuomo will commit $25 million in emergency funding for food banks, and he wants more philanthropies to help.
  • Launching NY Nourish initiative to deal with excess in upstate farms. Companies will be cooperating with the state to buy surplus milk.

*Courtesy of Statewatch

 

Governor Cuomo had extended the NYS on 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 information.

 

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

 

Cuomo Announces $25 Million Food Purchase Program

The Governor is committing $25 million from the state’s emergency relief fund to purchase New York farm products to be donated to regional food banks across the state. The program is called “Nourish NY.” Cuomo said the state is also partnering with companies like Cabot, Chobani, and Upstate Niagara, as well as the Dairy Farmers of America, to purchase excess milk and dairy products. Click here to read NYFB’s statement.

 

U.S. Embassy in Guatemala Resumes H-2 Visa Processing

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City has resumed processing of H-2 visa applications for seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural employment in the United States. To comply with necessary health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person interviews will not be required for most H-2 visa applicants.

 

Under these provisions, individuals will be able to submit their materials to apply for H-2 visas by courier and will not need to appear at the Embassy for an interview. Applicants must show proof of employment with a qualifying U.S. company that has obtained the necessary Foreign Labor Certification from the United States Department of Labor and an approved petition from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). Individuals who do not have employment with a qualifying U.S. company or who lack the necessary documentation are not eligible to apply for an H-2 visa. Further information can be found here.

 

Reviewing Expected Benefits of Dairy Revenue Protection and Dairy Margin Coverage

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Chief Economist John Newton and University of Minnesota Assistant Professor Marin Bozic have put together a Market Intel article that explores what support the Dairy Revenue Protection (Dairy RP) and Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) may provide to dairy producers that signed up for coverage. A copy of the article can be found here.

 

Webinar on Dairy Risk Management Concepts for the Current Environment

Farm Credit East and Crop Growers invite dairy farmers and industry professionals to hear Dr. Marin Bozic and Farm Credit East Business Consultant Gregg McConnell address the current dairy situation during a free webinar at 12:30 on Thursday, April 30. During this time Dr. Bozic will provide a dairy markets update as well as discuss tools available to dairy producers to manage risk on their operation. Gregg McConnell will be educating on how to evaluate your farm's risk profile and the suitability of the risk management tools for different situations. Click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 

New SBA Guidelines for PPP: Schedule F and H-2A Workers

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Treasury Department have released two new documents for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Treasury Department released new guidance for calculating the maximum PPP loan, which includes guidance for farmers who file an IRS Schedule F. The updated guidance can be viewed here.

Question: I am a self-employed individual who reports my income on IRS Form 1040 Schedule F. What documentation must I provide in place of Schedule C and how should my maximum loan amount be determined (up to $10 million)?

Answer: Self-employed farmers (i.e., those who report their net farm profit on IRS Form 1040 Schedule 1 and Schedule F) should use IRS Form 1040 Schedule F in lieu of Schedule C, and Schedule F line 34 net farm profit should be used to determine their loan amount in place of Schedule C line 31 net profit. The calculation is otherwise the same as for Schedule C filers above. The 2019 IRS Form 1040 Schedule 1 and Schedule F must be included with the loan application.

 

The SBA also released new FAQs, which include how businesses could interpret the definition for an employee’s “principal place of residence” for H-2A and H-2B workers. The updated FAQs can be viewed here.

 

Question: Is there existing guidance to help PPP applicants and lenders determine whether an individual employee’s principal place of residence is in the United States?

Answer: PPP applicants and lenders may consider IRS regulations (26 CFR § 1.121- 1(b)(2)) when determining whether an individual employee’s principal place of residence is in the United States.

*Lenders may interpret these factors on a case-by-case basis which, unfortunately, do not provide overall clarity for farmers.

 

Reminder: Farms Now Eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Agricultural enterprises are now eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans if they have 500 or fewer employees. The term ‘‘agricultural enterprises’’ means those small business concerns engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural-related industries. The EIDL provides an advance of up to $10,000 which does not need to be repaid. The loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other expenses.

 

SBA has not updated the EIDL website to allow applications. Individuals should check the website occasionally to see if the applications become available. Farmers should consult with their accountant, tax preparer and/or financial advisor about the EIDL application for their particular situation.

 

SBA Upstate NY District Office to Host PPP Webinar on Tuesday, April 28

The SBA Upstate NY District Office has scheduled a webinar for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, to cover updates to the Paycheck Protection Program and SBA’s COVID-19 relief efforts for small businesses. This webinar is free and open to the public. The event can only be viewed online via the link below, and voice questions will not be available. Please submit questions in advance to Syracuse.DistrictOffice@sba.gov. Live questions via the event chat will also be available. Click here to join the meeting.

 

USDA Opens Solicitation for Farmers to Families Food Box

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has issued a solicitation for the procurement of boxes of fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and pre-cooked meat products (chicken and pork) intended to serve Americans in need as part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. The solicitation is available here.

 

NY FarmNet Webinar: Stress Management & Mental Health Awareness

Stress is inevitable - it's how you respond to and manage the cause, or stressor, that can make a difference in your daily life. Whether the stressor is a medical diagnosis, low milk and commodity prices, weather that impedes crop production, or tensions within the family, there are tools we can use to help manage our emotions during challenging times.

 

Join Kate Downes and Brenda O’Brien of NY FarmNet on April 29 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for a free Zoom webinar as they discuss managing stress and the impact it can have on mental health, building resiliency, suicide prevention, and the importance of breaking down the stigma related to these topics.

 

To register, please click here.

 

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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. 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.