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
- Governor scouting additional sites for overflow hospital beds, 1,000 plus overflow in each of the downstate counties, in addition to simultaneously increasing current facility capacity.
- NYS has approved splitting of ventilators to help additional patients.
- NYS also approved converting anesthesia machines into ventilators.
- Shifting load from downstate hospitals to upstate hospitals, and expanding upstate hospital capacity
- Fed Stimulus Bill:
- Unemployment insurance, and small businesses addressed
- NYS gets $5B, only for COVID-19 expenses.
- Does not help governmental losses, Governor described this portion as a failure, and irresponsible.
- Governor does not know how much revenues are down, do not know the forecast for economic activity, nor additional federal response. But the estimated budget loss projection is $10 to $15 billion.
- The State is currently evaluating next steps for school closures and for testing mandates.
For the latest number of infection cases, including a breakdown by county, click here.
“Stop the Spread” Posters Available in Multiple Language
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is working with the State Department of Health to provide employers and employees with guidelines to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at the workplace. Full guidance document can be found here in English and Spanish.
And links to signs can be found below:
Federal Coronavirus Assistance Legislation Update: Senate Approves, House Scheduled to Vote Tomorrow
Yesterday evening, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which is a $2 trillion coronavirus-related assistance bill. The bill includes a wide variety of assistance for local governments, hospitals, businesses, and direct checks to individuals based on income. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Friday, March 27 through unanimous consent since the House is currently not in session.
The CARES Act does include provisions which benefit farmers including a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to support agriculture in times of crisis, and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.
A fact sheet with a summary of the bill’s provisions and implications for farmers can be found here. This fact sheet will be updated with new information as more details of the package are known.
H-2A Update: Virtual Housing Inspections, Database of Workers, Termination of Existing Job Orders
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging and uncertain situation for H-2A growers, workers, and the agencies who serve them. Cornell CALS Agricultural Workforce Development Specialist, Dr. Richard Stup, has compiled additional resources to assist farmers. Click here to read more on housing inspections, worker database and terminating an existing job order.
NYFB Letter to DMV Regarding Vehicle Registration
Due to COVID-19, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has recently closed DMV offices and required all transactions to be done online. While it is very important to take precautions in protecting the health of the public and DMV employees, there are concerns about how certain DMV transactions can be done during this time. Many farms have seasonal vehicles that need to be registered and obtain new registration plates. Currently, those registrations cannot be done on the DMV website. NYFB has sent a letter to the DMV Commissioner regarding these concerns and requesting a solution as soon as possible. Click here to view this letter. NYFB will continue to share updates on this issue.
DOT Expands National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today released a second FAQ document to provide guidance on its expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In the new FAQ document, wood pulp, feed and fertilizer are eligible for hours-of-service relief under the emergency declaration because they are a precursor to items that are “essential” for the emergency relief effort. The previous FAQ document listed livestock as eligible for hours-of-service relief because livestock are an immediate precursor to “essential” items for the COVID-19 relief effort. It now seems that FMCSA is dropping the “immediate” precursor requirement and allowing more precursors. For example, FMCSA granted relief to fertilizer, one of the first steps in the food and agriculture supply chain. A copy of the emergency declaration can be found here, and a copy of the FAQ can be found here.
NYFB sends letter to FCC requesting broadband expansion
NYFB sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting the need for broadband in New York State in order to remain competitive and requesting that Rural Digital Opportunity Funds (RDOF) funds are able to be utilized in conjunction with New York’s Broadband Program. Access to broadband is essential for farms and other rural small businesses to manage efficient and successful operations, to reach their communities and customers, to stay on the cutting edge of their industry, and for our rural communities to be attractive places to live for our employees, customers and the next generation to run our businesses. A copy of the letter can be found here.
NYFB Honored for Food Donation Efforts
As the COVID-19 pandemic puts a renewed focus on food access issues in light of the increased demand on local food banks and pantries, New York’s farmers are being honored for supporting people in need through their regional food banks. This week, American Farm Bureau Federation recognized New York Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) program for its efforts to donate more than 7.3 million pounds of food to regional food banks across the state last year. That was the second highest donation total in the country, behind Florida. In addition, the county Farm Bureau YF&R committees throughout New York raised $14,421 in monetary donations and performed 223 of volunteer work hours for area food banks in 2019. NYFB’s YF&R program also received AFBF’s Most Innovative Award for Livingston County Farm Bureau’s Farm Fest sweet corn donation project.
Farmers are encouraged to donate excess or unused product to their local food banks to assist people in their communities.
Click here for more on the awards and food donation effort.
Social Media Requests
New York Farm Bureau is looking to share more positive stories on social media about what is happening on your farm. Show us preparations and fieldwork for spring planting. We’d love to see how the greenhouses are looking. What are you doing to promote safe and healthy working conditions for your employees? Share a story with consumers as you talk to the camera. Please send videos and pictures to Steve Ammerman, NYFB’s public affairs manager at email@example.com and help us spread the message that New York agriculture is #StillFarming.
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 NFYB’s Pro-Ed page, including by age group. Click here to explore.
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.
- 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.