COVID-19 Updates

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NYFB President David Fisher letter to Gov. Cuomo asking for farms and agribusiness to stay open  

NYFB President David Fisher letter to Pres. Trump asking for farms and agribusiness to stay open  

NYFB Issues Press Statement Over Labor Concerns 

USDA Ensures Food Safety During COVID-19 Outbreak in Letter to Stakeholders 

Essential Business Update

The Empire State Development guidance for what is deemed an essential business has been revised to include landscaping, gardening, and horticulture. These businesses are now exempt from the workforce reduction rule regardless of what region they are located in. Click here to view the full essential business guidance document.

  

Guidelines on Phase 1 Reopening Plan for Agriculture Including Equine and Horticulture

There are guidelines now available on the businesses included in the Phase 1 of the New York Forward reopening plan. Eligibility for reopening each region will be determined by certain health metrics. Click here to view the Regional Monitoring Dashboard to see where each region stands. Once a region meets the criteria to reopen, phase 1 businesses are eligible to reopen while following the Interim Guidance for Non-Food Related Agriculture Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency which is applicable to the following activities, including but not limited to: greenhouses, nurseries, sod farms, equine operations, forestry and tree farms, companion animal services and local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions. These guidelines apply to all non-food related agriculture activities in regions of New York that have been permitted to re-open, as well as to non-food related agriculture activities statewide that were previously permitted to operate as essential. Click here for the document that must be signed to affirm that you have read the guidance document.

 

Each re-opening business must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out this template to fulfill the requirement or may develop its own Safety Plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. Click here for a sample safety plan. There are frequently asked questions (FAQ) posted on this website along with the contact information for each region committee.

 

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 info@nyfb.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.

 

A Message From State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball (03/19/20)

While New York State’s efforts to mitigate the impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue, I want to assure our community that farms, food and beverage manufacturers, agri-businesses, operations responsible for animal health, and related support industries are open and are not restricted from operating to provide food for our families and care for our animals. Agriculture and the food supply chain are essential industries and exceptions have been made to ensure our vital work can continue.The Department continues its operations and inspections and is in constant contact with our farms and agri-businesses. We are also encouraging consumers to remain strong in their support of local farms and agri-businesses during this time. It is more important now than ever that New Yorkers know that the State and our agricultural community are working together. In an effort to keep the industry informed on this rapidly evolving situation, we have provided additional details and guidance on our website found here. It will be updated as new information is available. Additional information and guidance are also available on the Department of Health’s website found here. I thank our farmers and our entire food industry for their commitment and contributions to agriculture and for maintaining the work and services that ensure all New Yorkers have access to the food they need.

 

NYFB Issues Recommendations to Congress to Assist Farmers Impacted by Coronavirus (03/24/20)

NYFB has provided New York Congressional members with a list of recommendations for assisting farmers during the national emergency to address the Coronavirus outbreak. NYFB’s recommendations include efforts to address labor shortages, financial assistance through USDA, support for rural broadband and healthcare, as well as financial support for businesses, including farms, that have been impacted by COVID-19 related closures. Congress continues to work on a legislative package to assist businesses and individuals impacted by the Coronavirus including provisions for the agriculture industry. A copy of NYFB’s recommendations can be found here. If an agreement is reached, NYFB will provide updates on the specific details of the legislative package.

 

NYFB Sends Letter to USDA Requesting Assistance for Farmers (04/06/20)

NYFB recently sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue outlining the needs of the New York agriculture industry as a result of COVID-19. New York’s agriculture industry has been greatly impacted with a loss of market and revenue stream for many producers, and it is important that USDA provides support to those products by using funds allocated by the CARES Act. A copy of the letter can be found here.

 

NYFB Sends Letter Requesting Technical Changes to PPP and EIDL  (04/20/20)

NYFB sent a letter to members of the New York Congressional delegation requesting additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and technical corrections to make SBA’s PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs more accessible for farmers. A copy of the letter can be found here.

 

NYFB Letter on Agricultural Worker Safety (04/21/20)

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.

 

NYFB Letter to the Governor Regarding Equine Farms (04/22/20)

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.  Click here to view this letter.

 

NYFB Letter to the Governor on Cornell Budget Funding  (05/06/20)

New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to the Governor reminding him of the importance of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to the agriculture community and urging that these critical program funds are not cut. CALS has been crucial in providing needed guidance and information to our farmers and farm workers during the pandemic. It is important these sources of information are not dropped. CCE has played a huge roll in distributing hand sanitizer and masks to our agriculture community as well as developing guidance for UPick operations and practices for social distancing on farms. To view a copy of the letter, click here.

 

NYFB Sends Letter to USDA on CFAP  (05/06/20)

New York Farm Bureau has sent a letter to USDA regarding the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The letter called on USDA to provide adequate funding for all sectors of agriculture, it also requested USDA include cull dairy cows in the definition of cattle for decreases in prices, and it requested that USDA cast a wide net for defining specialty crops eligible for assistance. In addition, the letter requested clarification for row crop inventories, removing payment limits for producers, and ensuring adequate funding for producers who continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19. A copy of the letter can be found here.

 

NYFB’s Recommendations for COVID-Related Federal Legislation (05/06/20)

As Congress looks to draft legislation to continue to assist those impacted by COVID-19, including business owners like farmers, NYFB has developed a document that outlines ‘asks’ it would like to see in COVID-related federal legislation. These include additional funding to USDA to assist farmers impacted by the coronavirus, addressing supply change concerns to move food products to consumers, providing additional flexibilities for employers, making technical changes to Small Business Administration programs, providing assistance to the self-employed, as well as funding for rural broadband access. A copy of the document can be found here and will be updated to reflect further needs identified by farmers.

 

COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide 

The UDSA has put together a COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide that outlines programs that are available to support rural businesses and individuals. A copy of the guide can be found here.

 

COVID-19 Cornell Resources:

Need information? View the following Cornell CALS and CCE Resource.
Pages Updated Regularly.

 

NYSDAM Farmers Market Food Safety Guidance Document (03/21/20)

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:

https://agriculture.ny.gov/food-safety/food-safety-farmers-markets

 

Interim Guidance for Animal Care Operations  (03/23/20)

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.

 

Guidance Document for Equine Operations (03/25/20)

Cornell Cooperative Extension has recently released a guidance document for equine operations, horse boarding businesses and riding facilities in relation to COVID-19. This document refers to the guidance from NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets but gives specific information on equine operation activities that are essential and non-essential. Click here to view this document.
 

Best Management Practices for Equine Operations

Cornell Cooperative Extension has released a document with best management practices (BMPs) for equine operations. These BMPs are suggestions for equine farms to protect public health. Click here to view this document. These BMPs do not replace the Interim Guidance for Non-Food Related Agriculture Activities during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and equine farms must follow the guidance from New York State.

 

Resources Available for Equine Farms (04/14/20)

Extension Horses, a resource provided by the Cooperative Extension System, brings together information from horse specialists from universities around the country, has developed resources for horse owners and farms to provide information and support during COVID-19. Resources include a series of educational webinars which provide access to experts on topics directly affecting equine owners and operations. Recently, there was a “COVID-19 Financial Assistance Options for Horse Owners and Horse Businesses” webinar with information shared by United Horse Coalition and American Horse Council. Click here to view the recording of this webinar. Go to the Extension Horses webpage for more resources. The United Horse Coalition also has a webpage with information on safety-net programs including hay and feed programs. Another resource is the Equestrian Aid Foundation.
 

Interim Guidance for Local Agricultural Demonstrations and Exhibitions

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has released interim guidance for local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions. Phase 1 reopening does include local agricultural demonstrations and exhibitions. This document gives guidance on what demonstrations and exhibitions are permitted and what guidance needs to be followed. Click here to see this guidance.

 

Empire State Development (ESD) has Updated the Essential Business Guidance for Construction (04/16/20)

All non-essential construction must safely shut down, except emergency construction (e.g. a project necessary to protect the health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow it to remain undone, but only to the point that it is safe to suspend work). Essential businesses may continue with projects already started. At every site it is required that the personnel working on the site maintain an appropriate social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exits. Sites that cannot maintain appropriate social distancing, as well as cleaning/disinfecting protocols, must close. Enforcement will be conducted by state and local governments, including fines up to $10,000 per violation.

 

NYS Ag and Markets NYC Trucking Guidance (04/01/20)

Please note the CDC guidance for truck drivers going into NYC does not apply to critical transportation and delivery workers moving goods, products and services - related to the food industry - into or out of New York State. The guidance the CDC shared is available here.

 

New York DMV Update (3/19/20)

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has posted information on how the DMV is dealing with the current COVID-19 situation. While the DMV has taken precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by cleaning offices and having hand sanitizer available, DMV offices will remain open. At this time, motorists are still required to get an annual NYS safety inspection before their current inspection expires, as well as renew their license and/or vehicle registration before their current document expires. For those whose transaction does not require an in-person visit, it is important to complete this transaction online. DMV offers many transactions through their website without the need to visit a DMV office. To help reduce the number of people in the offices, DMV is processing in-person transactions on a reservation-only basis for all state-run offices in the five boroughs of New York City, and in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Albany and Onondaga counties. Based on this policy, there will be no “walk-ins” allowed in the 27 State district offices. Reservations can be made here or by calling the reservation hotline at 1-518-626-8990. Those who need assistance may also call the hotline for personalized service. Click here for more information and updates.

 

DOT Provides Temporary Waiver for CDLs and Medical Cards (03/24/20)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced a Notice of Enforcement Policy and Waiver regarding expiring driver licenses and medical examiner certificates–for drivers who had current credentials as of March 1–allowing FMCSA to exercise its enforcement discretion to not take action in certain cases when a commercial learner's permit, CDL or medical certificate is expired. This Notice is effective from March 24, 2020, through June 30, 2020. A copy of the Enforcement Policy can be found here and a copy of the Waiver can be found here.

USDOT Extends National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles through June 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended their expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak through June 14, 2020.

 

This emergency declaration allows motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks emergency relief from certain parts the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency. A copy of the announcement can be found here.

 

Tractors and Machinery Operated by Multiple Users: How to Clean and Disinfect during COVID-19  (03/23/20)

Often more than one person operates the same tractor or piece of machinery on a farm operation in the course of a day’s or week’s work. Driving shared tractors and machinery may put operators at risk of contracting COVID-19 if care is not taken to clean and disinfect them thoroughly between operators. NYCAMH Agricultural Safety Specialist Jim Carrabba has written guidance and a safety checklist to help keep everyone on your farm safe. Click here to read.

 

Pesticide Applicator Online Courses (03/24/20)

Cornell Cooperative Extension has produced online pesticide applicator courses. These are accepted in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia and most of New England. Find a list of approved courses for New York 2020 here.

These courses adhere to New York State regulations (6 NYCRR 325.18) and have been approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Therefore, when you take an on-line recertification course, you must follow the same rules (described below) as you would when you attend live recertification training.

  1. We will check the amount of time spent before sending your official certificate. If you complete the course in under the required time, you forfeit your purchase and will not receive credits.
  2. The applicator earning credits must be the one taking and completing the course. Anyone using a substitute course taker is committing fraud and will forfeit their course fee and will not receive credits.
  3. A course may not be repeated in a recertification cycle. There are no limits on the number of different courses you can select. Maximum hours of training is 7 per day.

 

FDA Helps Facilitate Veterinary Telemedicine During Pandemic (03/24/20)

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing commitment to combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and providing flexibility across FDA-regulated industries, the agency announced today that it intends to temporarily not enforce certain requirements in order to allow veterinarians to better utilize telemedicine to address animal health needs during the pandemic.

The agency intends to temporarily suspend enforcement of portions of the federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements relevant to certain FDA regulations. The VCPR is the professional relationship between the veterinarian, client (e.g. animal owner or caretaker), and the animal patient(s). The federal VCPR definition requires that veterinarians physically examine animal patients and/or make medically-appropriate and timely visits to the location where the animal(s) are kept. Therefore, the federal VCPR definition cannot be met solely through telemedicine. A copy of the announcement can be found here.

 

FSA Makes Changes to Programs to Make it Easier for Customers to Conduct Business (03/27/20)

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices are open in STATE by phone appointment only until further notice, and FSA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing and other important actions. Additionally, FSA is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

FSA is delivering programs and services, including: Farm loans; Commodity loans; Farm Storage Facility Loan program; Disaster assistance programs, including signup for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (this includes producers now eligible because of losses due to drought and excess moisture in 2018 and 2019); Safety net programs, including 2020 signup for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs; Conservation programs; and Acreage reports. For further information regarding services that FSA can assist with, click here. To contact your local FSA office, click here.

 

PACA FAQs Related to the COVID-19 Impact on the Fruit and Vegetable Industry (03/27/20)

The USDA in administering the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) has released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document that aims to address fruit and vegetable industry questions in regards to PACA and the coronavirus. A copy of the FAQ can be found here.

 

PSA Temporary Remote Training Policy (04/01/20)

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) is temporarily amending policy to allow for remote training options for PSA Grower Trainings due to COVID-19. It is important that these courses be available to ensure growers can meet the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule requirements. This change is in effect until May 31, 2020, with the potential for extending this date pending updates on COVID-19. Here is the policy update and the Policy FAQClick here for more information and scheduled training courses.

 

PRO-DAIRY Resources 

PRO-DAIRY has numerous resources geared towards dairy farms during the pandemic.

Examples include:

• How to reduce milk output if your handler asks you to do so

• Feeding milk to cows

• Adding milk to manure storages

• Fertilizer value of milk

 

USDA Issues Emergency Provisions for Milk Dumping and Supply Flexibility (04/03/20)

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.

Actions include:

  • 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.

 

FDA Provides Temporary Flexibility Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold to Consumers by Retail Food Establishments During COVID-19 Pandemic (04/03/20)

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.

FDA Offers Food Safety Guidance (04/06/20)

The following information is now available to food manufacturers on Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

FDA is also offering an updated FAQ: How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?

Farmers Encouraged to Keep Records of Losses (04/22/20)

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.

 

Safety Guidance

Updated Farm/Farmworker COVID-19 Guidance Released by New York State

 

The New York State Departments of Health, Labor and Agriculture and Markets released today revised farm and farmworker guidance documents for COVID-19 prevention and response, in addition to a farm operator checklist to help maintain a healthy workforce. New York Farm Bureau has been working to obtain the release of these documents over the recent weeks.

 

Links to the documents in English are below, we expect to see similar versions in Spanish in the near future.

 

“Stop the Spread” Posters Available in Multiple Languages  (03/23/20)

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is working with the State Department of Health to provide employers and employees with guidelines to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at the workplace. Full guidance document can be found here in English and Spanish. NYCAMH also has numerous resources available for farm employers and employees on its website. Click here to view NYCAMH’s COVID webpage.

And links to signs can be found below:

 

Cloth Face Coverings vs. Respirators: What’s the difference and when should we use them? (04/23/20)

Respirators and cloth face coverings provide different types of protection and prevent exposures in different ways. NYCAMH & NEC safety educator Christina Hall provides a breakdown on different options and when to use them. Click here to read.

 

Managing U-Pick Operations During Pandemic (04/29/20)

Cornell CALS’s Small Farms Programs is issuing recommendations for U-Pick farms. U-Pick offers a critical direct marketing approach for many of farms and provides customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light of the spread of COVID-19, new management practices will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. Click here for the document that provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick operations for the 2020 season.

 

Tractors and Machinery Operated by Multiple Users: How to Clean and Disinfect during COVID-19 (05/04/20)

Often more than one person operates the same tractor or piece of machinery on a farm operation in the course of a day’s or week’s work. Driving shared tractors and machinery may put operators at risk of contracting COVID-19 if care is not taken to clean and disinfect them thoroughly between operators. NYCAMH Agricultural Safety Specialist Jim Carrabba has written guidance and a safety checklist to help keep everyone on your farm safe. Click here to read.

 

CCE to Provide Facemasks and Hand Sanitizer for Farm Employees (05/06/20)

Cornell Cooperative Extension is partnering with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Fairgrounds to distribute free sanitizer (from NYS Cleans) and reusable cloth face coverings for farmers and farm employees. Deliveries are starting this week to regional CCE distribution hubs, and county Cooperative Extensions will start engaging with local farmers in their region to schedule pick-up/delivery of product. Farmers needing sanitizer and/or face coverings for themselves and/or employees can request supplies by contacting their local county cooperative extension (remember, if expecting employees later in the season, please consider their needs in requesting quantities). The general guidance is each person should have at least two face coverings, but if employees are working in a ! dairy or livestock situation, it may be practical to request three per person. Instructions in Spanish can be provided for farmers with Hispanic and Latino employees to help in providing appropriate protocols for wearing face coverings and instructions for care. Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell CALS anticipates that additional deliveries will be made in the future, so if you do not receive free product this first distribution, please make sure to connect with your local county cooperative extension for future deliveries. The free products are available thanks to Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

 

Click Here to Visit Farm Labor Resources for More Worker Safety Guidance

Click Here to View Financial Assistance and Insurance Resources