COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Latest

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March 19, 2020

 

 

 

A Message From David Fisher on COVID-19

New York Farm Bureau's President offers words of support and encouragement to members (click here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

A Message From State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball

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.

 

Governor’s Workplace Restriction Executive Orders Exempts Farms and Agribusinesses

In an effort to further control the spread of COVID-19 in our State, Gov. Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 202.6 that restricts the number of employees in the workplace. This was followed by an announcement today that workplace restrictions would be increased from 50 percent to 75 percent.

 

However, these executive orders exempt food processing, including, but not limited to those supplying goods and services to this industry, such as agricultural operations, agri-businesses, etc. and retail grocery stores, including gas stations and convenience stores, from all restrictions imposed by emergency executive orders issued as a result of this emergency. These Executive Orders exempt businesses, vendors and services who provide goods and supplies to these essential businesses. This Executive Order will go into effect on March 20 at 8 pm. New York Farm Bureau has also petitioned the Governor to include in this exemption for horticulturally-based farm operations, along with equine operations, horse boarding businesses and riding stables. Given the time sensitive nature of their business and animal health concerns. The letter to the Governor can be viewed here.

 

COVID-19 and Your Dairy, Webinar on Friday

Richard Stup, PhD, Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development and Rob Lynch, DVM, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY will be hosting a webinar Friday, March 20 from 10-11 a.m. for Dairy Farmers. 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. The link to join can be found here

 

USDA, DOL Announce Information Sharing to Assist H-2A Employers

Today, March 19, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural sector employers to fulfill critical workforce needs within the U.S. under existing regulatory authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

USDA and DOL have identified nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. There will be workers leaving these positions who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. The data, available on www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a, includes the number of certified worker positions, the current employer name and contact, attorney/agent name and contact, and the worksite address. This information will be a resource to H-2A employers whose workforce has been delayed because of travel restrictions or visa processing limitations. Employers should be aware that all statutory and regulatory requirements continue to apply. Employers are encouraged to monitor www.travel.state.gov for the latest information and should monitor the relevant Embassy/Consular websites for specific operational information.

 

Congress Passes 2nd Legislative Package, Includes Free Coronavirus Testing and Paid Leave

Yesterday, March 18, the President signed a second piece of legislation aimed at providing support to individuals and businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. Known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the legislation requires private health insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing; it also provides free COVID-19 testing for those without health insurance. It also provides additional funding for nutrition programs for children to ensure they have access to meals while schools are closed as well as funding to assist food banks with food purchasing.

 

The legislation creates a new federal emergency paid leave benefit program for those impacted by the coronavirus. A summary of those provisions can be found here.


Congress and the President continue talks about a third legislation package that would address assistancefor businesses impacted by COVID-19. Once a final package is passed, details will be sent through these alerts.

 

USDOT Expands National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an 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.

 

This Emergency Declaration allows motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks are granted emergency relief from certain parts the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). 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. DOT has indicated that this language includes livestock and other perishables. It does not include feed at this time. A copy of the declaration can be found here.

 

Agricultural Producers Encouraged to Visit Farmers.Gov for Updates on USDA Services

As proactive health measures are put in effect nationwide to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the USDA is taking measures to ensure the safety of its employees and customers. As a result, access to certain facilities may be limited while remaining open for business. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), or any other service center agency are encouraged to call their service center to confirm availability for in-person or phone appointments before visiting. Producers can find their service center’s phone number here. Agricultural producers should visit farmers.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on available services and the latest status of service centers impacted by these locally-specific health measures.

 

SWCC Extends Deadlines for Available Programs

SWCC will be extending the RFP deadlines for all currently available programs: Round 26 Ag NPS, EBM Grown and Certified and High Efficiency Irrigation Systems. The updated deadlines will also be reflected on the Department of Ag and Markets website. Please see the information below for new deadline information. Note, that all other submission/application requirements indicated in each respective RFP remains the same.

  • Implementation of High-Efficiency Agricultural Irrigation Water Management Systems
    • Deadline for submittal of questions: April 13, 2020
    • Final Question and Answers posted: April 22, 2020
    • Deadline for Proposal Submission: May 4, 2020 by 4:00 p.m. local time
  • Implementation of Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Plans on New York State Grown and Certified Farms (NYS G&C) Deadline for submittal of questions: April 13, 202
    • Final Question and Answers posted: April 22, 2020
    • Deadline for Proposal Submission: May 4, 2020 by 4:00 p.m. local time
  • Round 26 – Ag NPS Program
    • Deadline for submittal of questions: April 27, 2020
    • Final Question and Answers posted: May 4, 2020
    • Deadline for Proposal Submission: May 18, 2020 by 4:30 p.m. local time

NY FarmNet Still Taking Calls

NY FarmNet is open and available to take calls at 1 (800) 547-3276. These calls are toll free, confidential, and available 24-7. 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.


New York DMV Update

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.

 

 

If you have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect your agricultural operation, please give us 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.

 

 

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• 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.