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.
Latest Update from New York State
Governor Cuomo held a daily briefing today on the state’s continued response to COVD-19. Here is the newest information:
- Governor Cuomo announced the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone. Click here to review.
- 20,875 cases in NYS, 2,635 are hospitalized (13% of cases).
- NYS issuing emergency order to hospitals on 50% capacity increase.
- Requesting retired nurses reach out to Department of Health to enlist to help.
- NYS again requested federal government utilize the Defense Production Act and disagreed with the fed’s characterization as "nationalizing" private sector.
- Reiterated request for federal government to waive the 25% cost share of FEMA dollars.
- FDA approved a NYS Department of Health request to use an experimental drug on a compassionate care basis (antibody injections).
Interim Guidance for Animal Care Operations
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has recently released interim guidance for animal care operations in relation to COVID-19 and the Governor’s executive order. This document clarifies which businesses/activities are exempt from Executive Order 202.6 including information for animal care/boarding facilities. Click here to view this document.
Essential Business Update
The guidance for essential businesses has been revised to include forest products businesses, including those involved in forestry operations, logging, manufacturing of lumber and paper products, and the distribution of those products are considered essential and exempt from the workforce reduction rule. Click here for the official announcement.
Steps Dairy Managers Should Consider to Protect Their Workforce, Business and Markets
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.
Click here to listen to the COVID-19 and Your Dairy webinar recording
Click here to view a pdf of the COVID-19 and Your Dairy webinar presentation
Communicating Basic Hygiene to Farm Employees
Workplace safety is critical. DO NOT DELAY IF YOU HAVEN’T DISCUSSED THIS WITH YOUR WORKFORCE. NYCAMH has issued guidance for employers to speak about COVID-19 with their employees, including Spanish language instruction for migrant employees. Hand washing is a first defense against protecting oneself and others from Coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Here are a few tips when communicating hand hygiene basics to farm employees:
1. Keep It Simple. More than half of U.S. adults have limited literacy skills, and 9 out of 10 have trouble understanding complex health information.
2. Show. When it comes to hand washing, show how it’s done. We recommend the following CDC videos:
In English: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html
If your workers have the ability to watch on their phones, text them the link. They can then re-watch at home and share with friends and family.
Illustrated posters on personal hygiene are available in English and Spanish on the NYCAMH website at: https://www.nycamh.org/resources/posters.php
3. REPEAT. Continue to remind workers to wash their hands. Place simple signs or posters in key locations, such as in bathrooms, entryways, exits, where they cook, and where they clock in or out.
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.
USDA Service Centers Open for Business by Phone Appointment Only
USDA Service Centers will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While FSA and NRCS program delivery staff at the Service Centers will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible. Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number at farmers.gov/service-center-locator and more information about Coronavirus and USDA Service Centers at https://www.farmers.gov/coronavirus.
USDA-NASS Suspends In-Person Data Collection, Reports Remain on Schedule
In response to evolving conditions of coronavirus, USDA-NASS has suspended in-person data collection for survey responses through April 3, 2020. To protect the health and safety of producers, partners, and employees, NASS is requesting that farmers and ranchers complete their surveys online or by phone. Currently, federal agricultural statistics reports remain on schedule.
NY FarmNet Is Open for Calls
NY FarmNet, which offers free consultant services on topics like business planning and mental health, is open and available to take calls at 1-800-547-3276. These calls are toll-free, confidential, and available 24-7. This is not the 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.
If you have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your agricultural operation, please give New York Farm Bureau a call. 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.
• 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.