The Latest from Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefings on COVID-19*
• Today is National Nurses Day. Gov., Cuomo thanked healthcare workers for their extraordinary efforts in combating COVID-19.
• Total hospitalization rate is down.
• Net change in intubations down.
• Number of new cases daily also going down (around 600).
• Deaths since May 5: 232 (207 in hospitals, 25 in nursing homes)
• Found new cases mostly coming from downstate, disproportionately affecting minorities.
• Hot spot seen in Madison/Oneida counties, with dozens of cases coming from a greenhouse/farm. The Governor argues outbreak was due to worker density and large gatherings.
• Gov. Cuomo said the state had an adequate PPE stockpile and urged any facilities facing a shortage to contact the state.
• The Governor wants to focus improvements on the hospital system, says they must be reorganized to operate as a single system in a public health emergency.
• NYS will be working with the Gates Foundation on re-imagining the education system.
• Reiterated that NYS will be working with Mayor Bloomberg to develop a testing and tracing army.
• Need to learn how to use new technologies in the future economy. Eric Schmidt, founder of Schmidt Futures, has agreed to serve as chair of 15-member blue-ribbon commission to do so.
• Schmidt made a virtual appearance, in which he clarified priorities would first focus on telehealth and how to improve interactions with those who need it most. Emphasized a focus on public-private partnerships.
*Courtesy of Statewatch
The Pause Act scheduled to go 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.
Please Do Not Cut Agriculture Program Funding! E-Lobby Letter
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State is facing a major economic hurdle. Many of the agriculture programs that received funding through the FY 2020/2021 final state budget are at risk of seeing cuts to that funding. The programs funded through the state budget are critical for our agriculture community. If we were to lose this funding it would be detrimental to the entire state’s food systems. Click here to send a letter o the Governor and ask him not to cut funding for essential agricultural programs.
Send Letter to Governor Cuomo Requesting that all Agribusinesses and Farm Activities be Included in Reopening Plan
Write to the Governor today requesting that all non-food production agricultural operations and agribusinesses be included in the first phases of reopening in New York. Farms and agribusinesses that produce food and care for animals have been considered essential during PAUSE NY, but other agriculture businesses have been considered non-essential. These include farms and agribusinesses that engage in landscaping, nurseries that grow and sell ornamental plants, and equestrian facilities that provide riding lessons and other “non-essential” activities. These farms and businesses have been financially affected and have not been able to make any income to support their employees and their business during PAUSE NY. It is important to take precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and t! he public during COVID-19, but as NY reopens, it is also imperative to allow the opening of these agribusinesses and permit these farm activities while still taking steps to reduce the safety risks. You can edit this letter if you would like to add any specifics regarding your farm or business. Click here to send your letter to Gov. Cuomo.
CCE to Provide Facemasks and Hand Sanitizer for Farm Employees
Cornell Cooperative Extension is partnering with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Fairgrounds to distribute free sanitizer (from NYS Cleans) and reusable cloth face coverings for farmers and farm employees. Deliveries are starting this week to regional CCE distribution hubs, and county Cooperative Extensions will start engaging with local farmers in their region to schedule pick-up/delivery of product. Farmers needing sanitizer and/or face coverings for themselves and/or employees can request supplies by contacting their local county cooperative extension (remember, if expecting employees later in the season, please consider their needs in requesting quantities). The general guidance is each person should have at least two face coverings, but if employees are working in a ! dairy or livestock situation, it may be practical to request three per person. Instructions in Spanish can be provided for farmers with Hispanic and Latino employees to help in providing appropriate protocols for wearing face coverings and instructions for care. Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell CALS anticipates that additional deliveries will be made in the future, so if you do not receive free product this first distribution, please make sure to connect with your local county cooperative extension for future deliveries. The free products are available thanks to Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Cornell Budget Funding
New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to the Governor reminding him of the importance of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to the agriculture community and urging that these critical program funds are not cut. CALS has been crucial in providing needed guidance and information to our farmers and farm workers during the pandemic. It is important these sources of information are not dropped. CCE has played a huge roll in distributing hand sanitizer and masks to our agriculture community as well as developing guidance for UPick operations and practices for social distancing on farms. To view a copy of the letter, click here.
NYFB Sends Letter to USDA on CFAP
New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to USDA regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The letter called on USDA to provide adequate funding for all sectors of agriculture, it also requested USDA include cull dairy cows in the definition of cattle for decreases in prices, and it requested that USDA cast a wide net for defining specialty crops eligible for assistance. In addition, the letter requested clarification for row crop inventories, removing payment limits for producers, and ensuring adequate funding for producers who continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19. A copy of the letter can be found here.
PPP Status Update
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, May 5th, the Paycheck Protection Program still has nearly $130 billion in available funding. The backlog of applications at many lenders from Round 1 appears to be mostly resolved, and SBA is strongly encouraging businesses to get their applications in now if they have not yet done so. SBA and Treasury have clarified a significant number of common questions and concerns about the program via Interim Final Rule and Frequently Asked Questions.
The PPP is a guaranteed loan program for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll or cover expenses for sole-proprietors/ self-employed. Eligible businesses include agriculture enterprises with 500 or fewer employees whose principle place of residence is in the United States. Loans are capped at $10 million but can include up to eight weeks of the business’s average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25 percent for non-payroll costs for businesses that was operational on February 15, 2020. Seasonal and new businesses will use different calculations and require different documentation. The PPP will be available through June 30, 2020.
NYFB’s Recommendations for COVID-Related Federal Legislation
As Congress looks to draft legislation to continue to assist those impacted by COVID-19, including business owners like farmers, NYFB has developed a document that outlines ‘asks’ it would like to see in COVID-related federal legislation. These include additional funding to USDA to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus, addressing supply change concerns to move food products to consumers, providing additional flexibilities for employers, making technical changes to Small Business Administration programs, providing assistance to the self-employed, as well as funding for rural broadband access. A copy of the document can be found here and will be updated to reflect further needs identified by farmers.
USDA and DOL Update Information Sharing to Assist H-2A Employers
U.S. DOL and USDA have updated contract information for H-2A workers that may be available for transfer through the month of June. On March 19, USDA originally announced its partnership with DOL to identify H-2A workers eligible for transfer. USDA has updated this information and identified 53,913 H-2A contract positions ending between March and June. This updated information can be found at www.farmers.gov.
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
- 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.
- COVID-19 Guidance from NYSDAM is available on its website. The department has also published a general resource guide for the agricultural community.