Message from CEO Jeff Kirby: NYFB Remains Open for Business
New York Farm Bureau remains committed to our members despite the guidance to close our state and regional offices to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We have carried out plans for staff to work from home. We will maintain services to the best of our abilities as well as make someone available to address needs and concerns during this uncertain time. We are all working in a challenging environment but are doing our best to serve you. We appreciate your patience. You may call our general office line at 518-436-8495 during normal business hours. Your calls will be routed to office staff working from home or you may reach out by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For New York Farm Bureau news alerts, please check your email or go to www.nyfb.org and click on “News” or the new COVID-19 alert page. Thank you and be well.
Employers to Provide Letters for Employees
Cornell’s Agriculture Workforce Development Specialist, Dr. Richard Stup, has provided this useful guidance to farm employees to have letters on their person while they’re traveling to and from work so if they get stopped by law enforcement they have information as to why they’re traveling. Farm employees are essential, and this should help them should there be further “stay at home” restrictions.
USDOL Issues FAQ Document Regarding COVID-19 Response, Including for H-2A Workers
In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a frequently asked question (FAQ) document regarding Office of Foreign Labor Certification activities, including H-2A. A copy of the guidance can be found here.
Department of Homeland Security Issues Essential Travel Guidance Regarding Mexican Border Closure
U.S. and Mexican officials have mutually determined that non-essential travel between the United States and Mexico poses additional risk of transmission and spread of COVID-19 and places the populace of both nations at increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Department of Homeland Security has issued guidance that clarifies agricultural workers (H-2A) and lawful cross-border trade are essential travel regarding the recent border closure with Mexico. For purposes of the temporary alteration in certain designated ports of entry operations authorized under 19 U.S.C. 1318(b)(1)(C) and (b)(2), travel through the land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the United States-Mexico border shall be limited to “essential travel,” which includes, but is not limited to:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work);
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico);
A copy of the guidance can be found here.
NYSDAM Farmers Market Food Safety Guidance Document
The Department of Agriculture and Markets recently released a final version of a guidance document governing Farmers Market Food Safety in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak as well as a link to a power point from the Department’s Food Safety Inspection team:
Latest updates from Governor Cuomo:
New York State is ending elective surgeries for the time being to address anticipated medical needs. Plus, the Governor is providing a list to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for assistance in building four new field hospitals at the Javits Center in New York City, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, and the Westchester Convention Center.
New York State is also gathering additional ventilators, identifying the need to purchase 6,000 more ventilators, and it is asking for FEMA assistance to pay for them. New York State is also requesting for modified federal legislation to make the state eligible for $6 billion in aid.
Finally, NYS Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker recommends Hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax medicine trials to assist those with the virus. The Food and Drug Administration is accelerating the distribution of 10,000 doses of those drugs to New York State.
NY FarmNet Is Open for Calls
This is not a number to reach New York Farm Bureau.
Following the guidelines of health and government officials in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, NY FarmNet is temporarily limiting face-to-face meetings, visits to farms, educational events, etc. They will work with farmers and agri-service via phone, email, and webinar. Their hotline will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by a live person. NY FarmNet remains committed to providing technical assistance in farm business management and personal wellbeing to New York’s farm community. Visit NY FarmNet’s website here.
NYFB staff will continue to monitor the situation over the weekend and alert members of major developments. We will also continue daily updates as necessary on Monday. Please visit nyfb.org for information as well.