The Latest from Gov. Cuomo’s Daily Briefing on COVID-19*
- 15,599 total hospitalizations as of yesterday. "The curve is on the descent."
- Net change in total hospitalizations and intubations is down
- 1,366 COVID hospitalizations yesterday
- 474 deaths (446 in hospitals, 28 in nursing homes)
- Gov. Cuomo says his visit to the White House was productive. He says he and the President were able to put personal politics aside and come to terms on the federal and state partnership in terms of testing, state funding, and the state/FEMA match.
- About 40,000 tests could be done daily if all variables were bought up to capacity.
Building a Tracing Army:
- New York will work with Connecticut and New Jersey to launch nation-leading contact tracing program
- Michael Bloomberg has volunteered to help develop testing/tracing/isolation program and will partner with John Hopkins and Vital Strategies on coordinating efforts.
- Will be a coordinated downstate and tri-state area
- Will work with SUNY and CUNY to draw 35,000 students in medical fields who can serve as tracers.
- Local leaders are feeling pressure to reopen
- Governor says, "This is not a time to be stupid."
- Governor reiterated what happened during the Spanish flu noting that if we are not prepared a second wave could wreak havoc.
- Governor reiterated that he has no problem taking the blame for any judgments on the matter.
- Schools will only open if it is known that schools are disinfected and there are protocols in place for continued disinfecting and social distancing.
*Courtesy NY StateWatch
Gov. Cuomo has extended the Pause Act 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.
NYFB President Fisher Publishes Op-Ed Column
The Empire Report, a news website with large readership, including among New York State lawmakers and the media, published an op-ed guest column from NYFB President David Fisher. He highlighted both the challenges facing agriculture and the work being done considering the COVID-19 pandemic. He also discussed the importance of our food supply and protecting farmworkers in this crisis. Click here to read.
Agricultural Worker Safety
New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to the Governor to express our concern for our agricultural workers and to urge increased testing and treatment for COVID-19 in rural parts of New York with an emphasis on farms and processing facilities. We requested that testing be available to workers that may have been exposed to COVID-19 regardless if they are showing symptoms. Additionally, we asked for guidance for protocols and procedures that our farms should be taking in the event a worker tests positive for the virus. It is important to ensure the safety of our agricultural workers so our farms can continue provide nourishment to all New Yorkers. To view this letter, click here.
NYAAC Farm Safe Web page
The New York Animal Agriculture Coalition, which New York Farm Bureau is a founding member and partner organization of, has created a page on its website highlighting farms’ safety initiatives during the pandemic. It is an opportunity to learn from fellow farmers and see the proactive steps being taken across the state. Click here to view.
Dairy Drive to be Held in Lowville on Friday
To help farmers and help the community, a Dairy Drive has been organized for Lowville for Friday, April 24 at the Lewis County Fairgrounds. Families in need can pick up dairy items, including milk, cheese and other products from 3-6 p.m. or until items are gone. Proper social distancing, safety, and public health hygiene practices will be adhered to throughout the event. Lewis County Farm Bureau is one of the sponsors. To donate to the dairy drive, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/lewiscountydairydrive
In addition, SUNY Morrisville, American Dairy Association Northeast, Dairy Farmers of America, and others are hosting large donation drives featuring milk products. May’s issue of Grassroots will showcase some of the efforts.
NYFB Letter to the Governor Regarding Equine Farms
NYFB has sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo sharing concerns about equine farms and how they can continue to take care of their horses with limited resources and options. Animal care operations are considered essential during New York State on PAUSE and activities related to the health care of horses are allowed under the executive order. While this has helped farms continue to care for their animals, equine boarding facilities are facing challenges due to certain insurance companies not allowing horse owners to visit the boarding facilities that have their insurance. Another issue for equine farms is that currently, they are not permitted to give riding lessons and thus, are not making the income needed to care for their horses. As NYS on PAUSE is extended further into the year, many equine farms are finding! it challenging to pay for hay and feed to keep their horses healthy during the closing of their businesses. Like golfing and boating, horse riding lessons can be conducted using social distancing and utilizing other precautions to minimize the amount of people in the stable and the space between them. Click here to view this letter.
Farmers Encouraged to Keep Records of Losses
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact farmers and cause losses, be it milk or produce, farmers are encouraged to keep records of any losses. These records can be helpful for any assistance programs that the federal government provides to businesses including farmers. Last Friday, the USDA announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) which will provide direct support to farmers impacted by COVID. A summary of the program can be found here.
Executive Order Halting Immigration Will Not Impact H-2A Workers
On Tuesday night, the President announced his plan to sign an executive order which would halt immigration into the U.S. However, based on clarification received, the administration will continue to process visas for temporary workers, like H-2A agricultural visas.
USCIS Gives H-2A Workers Temporary Flexibility to Stay and Work Longer, Allows For Housing Flexibility
The notice was published in the Federal register on Monday that gives H-2A workers temporary flexibility to stay and work longer in the United States. This will be welcome news for farmers who are scrambling this year to make sure they have enough workers to carry out the season’s production. Employers who find they need their H-2A employees longer than originally planned can have those workers continue to work while awaiting approval from USCIS for an extension request. In addition, allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond the usual three year individual maximum time and will allow more workers to move from job order to job order without having to return to their home country for a few months. This should make more workers available! and eligible for work in the U.S. at a time when they are desperately needed. H-2A Employers now have housing flexibility to provide for workers, access to expanded emergency job orders, and access to a database of workers already in the country. Further information can be found on the Cornell Agriculture Workforce Development page here.
Senate Passes PPP Increase Act of 2020, House Set to Vote on Thursday, Would Expand Funding
Yesterday, the Senate passed by unanimous consent H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The House is scheduled to vote on Thursday. The President announced he would sign the bill into law. NYFB supports passage of the bill. This bill expands farmer and rancher eligibility for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and includes necessary funding for hospitals and rural health clinics.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans will extend eligibility to agricultural enterprises, as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)) and have 500 or fewer employees to participate in the EIDL. The definition mentioned above is: (b) As used in this Act, the term ‘‘agricultural enterprises’’ means those small business concerns engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural-related industries. The bill provides $60 billion for the EIDL program. Paycheck Protection Program is provided an additional $320 billion for the PPP.
Farmers should continue consulting with their accountant, tax preparer and/or financial advisor about the PPP and EIDL application for their particular situation because this additional funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and will go quickly.
NY FarmNet Webinar: Stress Management, Resiliency Building and Mental Health Awareness
Stress is inevitable - it's how you respond to and manage the cause, or stressor, that can make a difference in your daily life. Whether the stressor is a medical diagnosis, low milk and commodity prices, weather that impedes crop production, or tensions within the family, there are tools we can use to help manage our emotions during challenging times.
Join Kate Downes and Brenda O’Brien of NY FarmNet on April 29 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for a free Zoom webinar as they discuss managing stress and the impact it can have on mental health, building resiliency, suicide prevention, and the importance of breaking down the stigma related to these topics.
To register, please click 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.
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
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.
- COVID-19 Guidance from NYSDAM is available on its website. The department has also published a general resource guide for the agricultural community.