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 Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefing on COVID-19*
- All NYS counties now have confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- Daily ICU admittance and intubations are still rising.
- Construction started at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, 750 beds, expected to open next week.
- COVID-only hospital (OMH South Beach facility) expected to open next week.
- The Governor is least worried about bed capacity, but more concerned about staffing and supplies.
- Staff shifting from upstate to downstate
- 21,000 out-of-state volunteers.
- 85,400 total volunteers.
- Supplies are ongoing challenge.
- Nightly hospital survey of equipment will be conducted.
- Hospitals being asked to contribute supplies to central stockpile to be redistributed to hospitals in need.
- NY will pay to convert facilities in order to produce gowns and masks
- Will finance, reduce red tape, and will pay a premium.
- Ventilators: State has about 2,200 ventilators in the stockpile. Number of people who come in per night requiring a ventilator is about 350 people.
- State released 400 ventilators to NYC, 200 to Long Island and Westchester County.
- Governor states that the stockpile will cover the next six days.
- State knows where all ventilators in NYS are and will shift as needed.
- State put out protocol on how to split ventilators to cover two patients.
- State still looking to purchase existing ventilators.
- Governor spoke with the President this morning. The Federal government might not have the stockpile to help all the states.
- Extending health exchange enrollment period to May 15. Sign-up information is available at NY State of Health website.
*Courtesy NY StateWatch
Gov. Cuomo has extended the Pause Act to April 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.
Agricultural Funding Still in Question in the Final State Budget
As the state legislature works to finalize the state budget for the coming year, questions still remain about funding for agricultural programs, among other budget items. Once New York Farm Bureau has the complete budget picture, we will share the final information.
COVID-19 Employee Leave and Farm Employers
Both the U.S. and New York governments passed COVID-19 related legislation in recent weeks affecting employee leave from work. These programs are designed to protect jobs and provide additional sources of income for employees and their families during the current pandemic. This post from Cornell CALS Agricultural Workforce Development is intended to help clarify the new federal and state programs and how they interact with each other.
Unemployment Insurance in New York Under the CARES Act
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third emergency response package to deal with the economic fallout of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Included in this Act are a series of provisions to strengthen and extend unemployment insurance benefits known as the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act. There are three significant provisions to this Act:
- Increased benefit amounts
- Extended time for benefits
- Extended coverage for individuals who are not typically eligible for unemployment benefits.
NYFB has prepared an extensive Fact Sheet for members on unemployment benefits under the CARES Act and procedures to apply to the NYSDOL which can be found here.
NOTE: NYSDOL is currently experiencing an extraordinarily high volume of calls and on-line applications. Following are instructions on when to apply:
If you are filing a new Unemployment Insurance claim, the day you should apply is based on the first letter of your last name:
- A - F file on Monday
- G - N file on Tuesday
- O - Z file on Wednesday
Missed your day? File on Thurs-Fri-Sat
Any claim you file will be backdated to the date you became unemployed. If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits due.
Extended telephone filing hours as follows:
Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m. to 7:30 pm
Friday: 8 a.m. to 6:00 pm
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 pm Telephone: 888-209-8124
A step-by-step process to file online by clicking this link.
TTB announces a 90-day postponement for excise tax-related filings
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recognizes that businesses that we regulate are being severely impacted by COVID-19. To assist these businesses during this period, we are postponing several filing and payment due dates for 90 days where the original due date falls on or after March 1, 2020, through July 1, 2020.
Specifically, they are:
1. Postponing tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes.
2. Postponing filing due dates for excise tax returns.
3. Postponing filing due dates for submission of operational reports.
4. Postponing filing due dates for claims for credit or refund by producers.
5. Postponing filing due dates for claims by manufacturers of non-beverage products.
6. Postponing due dates for submission of export documentation.
7. Considering emergency variations from regulatory requirements for affected businesses on a case-by-case basis.
8. Reviewing requests for relief from penalties based on reasonable cause.
DOL Releases Additional Guidance on H-2A
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Foreign Labor Certification has released a Round 2 FAQ document regarding COVID-19. The FAQs address potential issues regarding the H-2A program. A copy of the guidance can be found here.
Awaiting Clarification and Interpretation under the Paycheck Protection Program
On April 1, the SBA and the Treasury Department announced that they have initiated a robust mobilization effort of the PPP. In a nutshell, the PPP is designed to help small businesses keep their employees paid through this difficult period. The PPP provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay employees and keep them on the payroll. These loans are open to most businesses under 500 employees, including non-profits, the self-employed, startups and cooperatives. While agricultural producers are eligible for the PPP, it may be less useful to them than originally hoped.
There are a few provisions that could make it difficult for agricultural producers to use, depending on how those provisions are interpreted. The first potentially limiting factor for farmers is that payroll expenses cannot include salaries for foreign workers or independent contractors. According to the Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey of U.S. crop workers, only 50% of workers were U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, making 50% of crop workers ineligible for this program. This exclusion will be particularly limiting to fruit, vegetable and nut producers and the dairy sector, all heavily reliant on foreign labor. In addition, many farm business owners rely heavily on independent contractors, also sometimes referred to as 1099 workers. Under the PPPL, farm businesses should not include 1099 payments when calculating their average monthly payroll for the purposes of getting a loan. The thinking here! is that 1099 workers can apply for PPP loans on their own, so business owners shouldn’t be counting those payments as payroll.
The other provision of concern relates to size limitations. While the headline eligibility defines a small business as one having 500 employees or fewer, the PPPL also stipulates that a small business must meets the SBA small business industry-specific standards. The industry-specific standards are set using the North American Industry Classification System, which is a classification of business establishments by type of economic activity. Under the industry-specific standards, a small business classification is based on either the number of employees or annual receipts in millions of dollars, but not both. Farm Bureau is currently working with the SBA and Congress get clarification on farmer eligibility. An article from AFBF regarding the situation can be found here.
A Message from American Dairy Association Northeast: Milk Restrictions in Grocery Stores
There’s been a lot of discussion on stores limiting milk and dairy product purchases. ADA North East has been working at the retail level in a couple of key ways over the last few weeks.
When the initial run on dairy took place, our retail team worked directly with stores to help stock the dairy cases, to help ensure that product was out and available for shoppers. At that time, many stores had posted limits on could be purchased (on dairy and many other items that were flying off the shelves – bread, eggs, meat, cleaning supplies and toilet paper, to name a few). Over the last week or so, the initial rush on stores and people doing large stock-up shopping trips has decreased. This week our team has contacted the major chains in our market area (representing around 1,400 stores) who have confirmed that their corporate offices have lifted the limitations on milk. They will continue to assist stores in enhancing retail sales as long as possible under these current conditions.
How you can help? If you see a store that is still limiting milk sales, please take a picture, note the location, date and time and send to Beth Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) so ADANE can work with the chain to rectify the situation. Thank you!
NYS COVID-19 Resource Info
NYSDOH has converted the “STOP THE SPREAD” poster into multiple languages, to access this information click here. Please print these posters and post them at your business, store or farm. It is important we continue to adhere to the requirements outlined in this poster.
In an effort to keep the agricultural industry informed on the rapidly evolving COVID19 situation and New York State’s response, NYSDAM is providing this document to help connect you with industry-relevant resources. Below, you will find information on small businesses, food safety, companion animals, mental health, and more. This document will be updated frequently as new information arises. Additionally, please continue to check agriculture.ny.gov/coronavirus regularly for the latest resources.
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.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (TALK), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Crisis Text Line
Text “GOT 5” to 741-741, www.crisistextline.org
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.
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.