COVID-19 Updates

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NYFB COVID-19 impact member survey results

NYFB hosts U.S. House Agriculture Committee Members from NYS for virtual town hall event. Click here to view recording.

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 

NYFB President David Fisher testimony to New York Stat Assembly Hearing on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Insecurity in New York State 

  

NYFB State Office is Back Open

We are happy to announce that the NYFB State Office reopened June 10, 2020 at 25% capacity. The rest of the staff continues to work remotely.  

CEO Liz Dribusch convened a Reopening Task Force headed by Henry Talmage, Director of Member Relations and Economic Services, last month and charged the members with developing procedures for the safe reopening of the office as well as completing New York State’s Business Reopening Safety Plan.

 Please Note: In an effort to keep staff safe and healthy, visitors to the State Office are discouraged at this time. Anyone who does visit must have an appointment and must certify their health by answering four COVID-19 specific questions upon arrival. Logs are set up in reception for staff, visitors, and cleaning staff as contact tracing would be of paramount importance to a positive case of COVID-19 in our office. You may call our general office line at 518-436-8495 during normal business hours or you may reach out by email at info@nyfb.org
 

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.


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.

 

State Guidance for Agritourism Available (9/2/20)

Gov. Cuomo has announced the release of new state guidance for agritourism businesses including guidance for activities such as corn mazes and hayrides. Click here to view the guidance.

 

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 Equine Operations (6/11/20)

A phased re-opening of New York State is underway.  Due to their open space and outdoor nature, activities associated with the equine industry are permissible so long they are consistent with the outlined requirements. The industry must adhere to all social distancing, cleaning, and sanitation guidelines. 
For purposes of this guidance, equine activities include: the breeding, boarding, exercise, and transport of horses, the riding of personal horses at boarding facilities, and the oversight or instruction of riders.   Click here to read NYSDAM interim guidance for indoor/outdoor equine operations.

 

Guidelines on 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.

 

The phase 4 guidance for low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment does include outdoor agritourism and agricultural demonstrations; however, horse events and competitions are listed in the guidance for sports and recreation. Here is the summary and the master guidance for sports and recreation. You can find these documents on the New York Forward website under statewide guidelines. Reminder that all social gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed in phase 4. This includes horse events and competitions. Under the sports and recreation guidance, there is nothing stating that the attendees must be local.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Links to Spanish versions are below:  
 

 

NEC Update: CDC also Issues COVID-19 Farm Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released specific guidance today for agricultural workers and employers to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and to help lower the disease’s impact at agricultural worksites. The guidance can be found by clicking here.

Last week New York State released its own COVID-19 guidance for the agricultural industry. It is generally recommended that you refer to your state guidance first, as state guidance typically overrides federal guidance in these instances.

 

“Recent stories in both national and local news have shown how COVID-19 has the potential to severely impact workers and farm productivity,”, said Dr. Julie Sorensen, Director of the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Farming, Commercial Fishing and Forestry (NEC). Sorensen noted that COVID-19 impacts have been severe in some cases, with operations either being completely shut down or creating labor shortages that have required euthanizing livestock or loss of product. “Prevention of COVID-19 will be key to managing the crisis and this guidance provides specific information for agriculture—and essential industry,” said Sorensen.

 

For more information specific to workplace health and safety concerns in these industries and how they relate to the coronavirus pandemic, click here.

 

“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