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*
- The NYS Department of Health Commissioner says there is no data to suggest that a wide-spread face mask policy is effective, but the Governor said it is fair to say that masks couldn't hurt, unless they give people a false sense of security.
- Governor says NYS will not leave hospitals without essential equipment, but utilizing their stockpile and will reimburse facilities.
- Governor says there could be several hundred ventilators that could be redeployed to areas of need.
- There is a high rate of illness in NYPD, FDNY, transit workers, and healthcare workers: state will look to be of assistance but has no plan to "take-over" any organization.
- State transferred several dozen COVID patients to upstate hospitals.
- NYS concerned about increase in cases on Long Island
- Governor reiterated the state's need for PPE supplies, and remains frustrated with interstate competition. Reiterating desire for companies to help produce masks, gowns, face shields and other PPE.
- Javits Center in NYC is now COVID-19 Only facility
- Governor noted a reduction in non-COVID cases due to the decrease in social activity: fewer car crashes, less traumatic injuries at hospitals.
- To sign Executive Order allowing state to assume control of ventilators and Private Protection Equipment (PPE) from institutions for redeployment. They will be returned or reimbursed. The National Guard will deploy to acquire the equipment.
*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 Improved in Later Version of the Final 2020-2021 State Budget
The final budget documents were voted upon early this morning and includes $500,000 in additional funding earmarked for agricultural programs. The details of how the funding will be spent are yet to be worked out. With this added funding, agricultural program spending is still reduced from last year’s levels, but it is certainly closer to making these programs whole.
Additional changes in the budget include:
- Changes to the recently enacted farm worker labor law that expand the definition of family from immediate family to the third degree of consanguinity, which includes many more family members in the definition
- Clarifies that salaried workers in management positions will continue to be able to be paid salary
- Increases per project funding for the farm worker housing revolving loan fund
- Establishes a prevailing wage for state funded projects threshold well above any farm-related project ($5 million total project cost and 30 percent state funding)
- A $3 billion environmental bond act
- Banning of hydrofracturing in New York State
- Paid employee sick leave
- Fast track siting for renewable energy projects
More details will be available regarding these budget items from New York Farm Bureau in the future.
New York Farm Bureau Statement on the New York State Budget
“New York Farm Bureau understands the dire straits that New York State is facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The deficits are real, not only for the expected projections for state government, but also for New York farmers who are seeing drastic drops in their customer base and commodity prices because of the virtual shutdown of our economy.
The final budget deal is about as good as we could expect during these times. Many of the important budget lines that support research, environmental compliance, marketing and promotion remain intact and are appreciated. There are also much needed updates to the recently enacted farm labor law that address changes New York Farm Bureau was seeking, including clarification for family and salaried employees. However, some of the requests to address serious financial needs on farms that we were hopeful would make the final budget only weeks ago, like the refundable investment tax credit for farms, are no longer included. Farms and agricultural businesses are in great need and we hope that New York State will continue to work with us to support our farms and food system, that are clearly essential in good times and bad.”
USDA Issues Emergency Provisions for Milk Dumping and Supply Flexibility
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is prepared take specific actions within the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) to facilitate the disposal of milk or provide flexibility to meet increased retail demand due to COVID-19. These actions are authorized for the time period of March-May, as needed.
- USDA will provide flexibility for the dumping of milk and limit the financial impact to producers. Milk historically associated with a FMMO will be allowed to be dumped at the farm and still priced and pooled on the FMMO. The pooling handler will need to notify the FMMO of any dumped milk.
- Pooling provisions, shipping and/or diversion limits, of individual orders may be adjusted to accommodate changes in supply/demand due to COVID-19 responses.
- Fully regulated plants having difficulty meeting the increased demand at grocery stores will be allowed to purchase milk from other sources such as partially regulated distributing plants, provided the additional milk is pooled and priced on a FMMO.
- If a producer-handler loses their markets due to COVID-19, the FMMO will allow these entities to become fully regulated and then revert to their producer-handler status once the market returns to normal.
- If a producer-handler has the capacity to process additional fluid milk for consumers, the FMMOs will lift the limit on the amount of outside milk the producer-handler can purchase if the milk is pooled and priced on a FMMO. The producer-handler must still remain under the three-million-pound production threshold in order to keep its producer-handler status.
All requests should be made to the local Milk Marketing Administrator.
Should the need arise please review this alert from Pro-Dairy to ensure that surplus milk is managed appropriately.
New York State Bag Ban Regulation on Hold
The Department of Environmental Conservation, pursuant to an Order signed in NYS Supreme Court, Albany County on March 16, 2020, has agreed to take no enforcement action until May 15, 2020 due to COVID-19. This order does not affect the local laws in New York City, Suffolk County and Tompkins County requiring that the five cent paper carryout bag reduction fee must be charged on paper carryout bags.
Unemployment Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
NYS Department of Labor has issued a FAQ document to answer questions regarding unemployment insurance for those impacted by COVID-19. Click here to read.
SBA Releases Final Interim Rule for Paycheck Protection Program
Yesterday, the Small Business Administration released its Interim Final Rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). A copy of the rule can be found here. The application period begins today (Friday, April 3) for small businesses and sole proprietors. Independent contractors and the self-employed may apply starting on April 10, 2020. The PPP will be available through June 30, 2020. Agricultural businesses that meet the size standards are eligible for the program. The SBA guidance on “Small Business Concerns” has removed the revenue threshold for the PPP loan and is solely based on employee size standards.
Eligible businesses include small and medium sized businesses up to 500 employees, non-profits [501(c)(3)] , independent contractors and the self-employed. The program is a guaranteed loan program through SBA, and businesses will work with their lender (bank/Farm Credit/etc.) to access this program. The PPP would: support $349 billion in 100 percent guaranteed, low interest, no fee loans of up to $10 million with repayment deferred for at least six months; forgive up to 100% of the loan if the borrower has retained the same number of employees as when they received the loan. A fact sheet and overview can be found by clicking the links and a copy of the application can be found here.
Farm Credit East Webinar on Paycheck Protection Program
A cornerstone provision of the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a forgivable loan program administered by the Small Business Administration, to provide loans to businesses impacted by the current state of the economy. Join Farm Credit East on Monday, April 6 at 2 p.m. to learn the basics of the program, what size loan you may qualify for and how this program could assist your ag businesses with near-term payroll expenses. If you are unable to join, a webinar recording will be posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. To register, click here.
Employee Retention Tax Credit Guidelines
The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable tax credit for 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. This credit was created by the CARES Act.This credit applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. Self-employed individuals are not eligible for this credit. The credit is available to employers regardless of size, tax-exempt 501(c) organizations when business operations are fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19, or to employer’s whose gross receipts are 50% less than the comparable quarter in 2019. Qualifying wages are based on the average number of a business’s employees in 2019. If the employer had 100 or fewer employees the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employer had more than 100 employees, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work. E! mployers can immediately reduce required deposits of Social Security payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages. If the tax credit exceeds the amount of taxes that the employer would have deposited (calculated quarterly), the employer can request a payment for the difference. An employer may claim tax credits for both the Employee Retention Credit and for paid leave and sick leave tax credits created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — but not for the same wages paid. An employer may not claim Employee Retention Credits if it receives a Small Business Interruption Loan under the Paycheck Protection Program. Additional information can be found here.
FDA Provides Temporary Flexibility Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold to Consumers by Retail Food Establishments During COVID-19 Pandemic
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released a guidance document, Temporary Policy Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold by Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide temporary flexibility regarding the packaging and labeling of shell eggs sold to consumers in retail food establishments.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer demand for shell eggs sold at retail has increased. Additional shell eggs for consumers are available, but appropriately labeled retail packaging is not available for all such shell eggs. Some of the available eggs are in flats, which typically hold 30 eggs and are normally sold to institutions and restaurants and are not labeled. Other available eggs could be placed in cartons, but appropriately labeled cartons are not available for all such eggs. To meet the increased demand for shell eggs in light of the limited availability of retail packaging, FDA is providing temporary flexibility regarding certain packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs. A copy of the guidance can be found here.
NYS COVID-19 Resource Info
New York State Department of Health (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.
Steps Dairy Managers Should Consider to Protect Their Workforce, Business and Markets
As NYS is starting to see some COVID cases on farms, it is important to be prepared. As a reminder, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Specialist, Dr. Rich Stup, and Rob Lynch, DVM, of Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY held a webinar to provide dairy farms with important information as it related to protecting their farms during the COVID 19 pandemic. Topics include: why prevention of the coronavirus/COVID-19 is important, steps that employers should take to protect employees, animal health considerations, what to do if service providers are not available, disaster contingency plans, cross-training of employees who can fill other roles, business resources for employers, and pending federal and state legislation related to coronavirus and employees. The webinar is available by clicking here.
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
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, clic 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.