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.
The Latest from Governor Cuomo’s Daily Briefing on COVID-19
- NYC is currently implementing an additional social distancing plan:
- closing streets to traffic for pedestrian use
- playground density reduction mandates no close contact sports, such as basketball, if not followed, playgrounds will shut down.
- Evidence is showing that the density control plan is working. The doubling of hospitalization rates is spreading out across more days than earlier in the week.
- As of today, the demand for personal protective equipment for health care workers is satisfied for the next couple of weeks, but three weeks out there will again be a need.
- Federal Government has committed 4,000 ventilators (yesterday, the number was 400).
- NYS is still working with the feds for more ventilators and is still looking into splitting ventilators.
- Governor says the state has purchased everything that can be purchased.
- 40,000 responses from "Surge Healthcare Force", the reserve healthcare workforce.
- 6,175 mental health professionals signed up to provide services.
- NYS is working with the federal government to find vendors and using Defense Production Act to maximize production.
- Working with the feds on a rolling deployment plan (mentioned yesterday as a request) to meet needs of hot spots as they arise. NYS will then redeploy equipment and personnel as state's needs decline.
- Governor described the $2 trillion stimulus bill as "terrible" for NY. $3.8 billion is geared for NYS, and $1.3 billion for NYC. He had asked the House to modify the bill.
For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.
Cornell Cooperative Extension still Available
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) has transitioned to working remotely and continues to provide programming across all mission areas whenever possible. As vital resources for the New York State agricultural sector, agricultural team specialists, local CCE agriculture educators and Taste NY employees are essential service providers and are able to continue to work, with appropriate precautions to avoid transmission of COVID-19. COVID-19 specific resources are updated daily at https://eden.cce.cornell.edu/, via Twitter @CCE_Disaster and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CCE.NY.EDEN/
Agreement Reached on Federal Legislation; Needs Senate and House Approval
Early on Wednesday morning, it was announced that the Senate had reached a deal on a $2 trillion bill that would provide assistance to the economy, local governments, business owners, and individuals. The final text of the legislation was scheduled to be released on Wednesday with a possible vote by the Senate the same day. It remains to be seen if the House will pass the legislation on unanimous consent, which means if no representative objects on the House floor, the legislation is able to move forward.
What’s in the aid package? Staff is still reviewing the text but initially the package does include funding for agriculture. In draft text, there is $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) which can be utilized to provide direct support to farmers. There is also an additional $9.5 billion in funding for the USDA to utilize for dairy, livestock, and specialty crop producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement also includes direct payments of $1,200 per person to lower-income and middle-income individuals, but the thresholds to qualify for the direct payments are not known yet. There are also expanded unemployment insurance benefits and aid for small businesses. Again, final details are not known for how these funds will be distributed to those impacted by the Coronavirus. Stayed tuned for updates on details of what is included in the legislation.
H-2A Visa Services in South Africa Update
As of March 24, South Africa announced a 21-day national lock down, resulting in no visa processing being conducted as this time. Local Department of State (DOS) officials anticipate the lock down will mean their courier will not be able to deliver or receive passports. DOS continues to monitor the situation and will do what they can to adjudicate H2 visas when they are able. As this is a locally implemented lock down, the U.S. government cannot facilitate processing or movement of H-2A workers. Employers should monitor the South African website here for updated information on specific South African activities.
Farmers should continue to communicate H-2A delays and issues to their members of Congress and ask for continued efforts through USDOL and DOS to expedite H-2A visa processing for both new and returning workers. You can send a letter to your member of Congress by clicking here.
Small Business Disaster Loans Available to New York Businesses
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared an economic disaster in New York state which means that small business owners in New York are eligible for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Application information can be found here.
Businesses should visit www.sba.gov/local-assistance to find a local SBA office to assist with applying for funds. A copy of the SBA’s Factsheet for the New York Disaster Declaration can be found here. Click here for a step-by-step graphic for applying for SBA Disaster Loans.
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 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.
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.
Managing Stress in Unprecedented Times
First, a brief quiz, True or False:
1.) Anxiety is a good feeling.
2.) Feeling I have no control is fun.
If you answered “false” to both of those statements, you are in the company of most of the world. This is a time with no precedent, no reference points, no ability to remind ourselves “Well, the last time this happened, I _____________.” There is no previous time with the novel coronavirus.
Whatever our age, a life-altering event can leave us hoping there is some magical cure that will help us feel less bad: “If only I read the right book/ hear the right sermon/ go to the right workshop, I can learn how to feel less bad.”
Unfortunately, no magic exists in this situation. Amplifying our fears is the fact that the ultimate “grown-ups”—the President, governors, hospital administrators—are telling us there will be no quick solutions to this situation, and it may get worse before it gets better.
Taking all of that into consideration, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Stress is characterized as inevitable events that occur that are difficult for us to manage or influence: a scary medical diagnosis, milk and commodity prices that are low, weather that impedes crop production, tensions within our family.
- Distress is our reaction to these events. Trying to figure out how to deal with the distress—and, hopefully reduce the distress—gives us back some control at a time when we may feel like we have no control.
- First, acknowledge the feelings you are experiencing: fear, anger, disappointment. This is no time to be a hero; it is natural and universal to feel very bad in the midst of a catastrophic event such as this epidemic.
- Consider sharing some of your feelings with family and friends. Things that frighten and anger us tend to get smaller when exposed to air and light.
- At the same time, if you find yourself watching endless coverage of this pandemic on television, ask yourself if that is helping you or making you feel worse.
- Reach out to friends and family members on the phone or online to check in with them to see how they’re doing. Maintaining points of contact during uncertain times can help everyone.
- Many adults have learned some ways to try to lessen uncomfortable feelings when feeling distressed: go for a run, watch a funny movie, read to a child, walk outside, breathe. Engage in any of these coping strategies that you find works best for you.
- There are behaviors we turn to that have often caused us greater distress: drinking or eating too much, sleeping too little, lashing out at the people we care about because we are so worried. To the degree possible, try not to increase these behaviors during this difficult time. If you feel you need assistance to manage any of these behaviors, there are trained professionals available who know techniques to address these issues. Resources may include your pastor, the county mental health clinic, NY FarmNet, or a trusted family member or friend.
Sometimes taking healthy steps on your own to lower stress is not enough, and that is ok. Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue, or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a doctor, social worker, or professional counselor.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (TALK), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Crisis Text Line
Text “GOT 5” to 741-741, www.crisistextline.org
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.