Coronavirus | Updates in Agriculture

This page will be updated as new resources are made available.

Resources

COVID-19 Pandemic: Orders and Guidance from Governor Hogan
Here are links to the proclamations and orders issued by Governor Larry Hogan related to COVID-19, along with interpretive guidance from the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel. More here.

Essential Farm Worker and Farm Contractor Permits
Governor Hogan issued a stay-at-home executive order March 30. However, agricultural labor is identified as a critical component of that food supply, and thus it is important that workers who make up an essential part of the food supply chain be allowed to remain operational. Download the permits for farm workers and contractors here.

Print Resources from the CDC
The CDC has compiled a variety of printable resources to promote employee and customer safety. More here.

Farm Worker Safety
Cornell University and the Farm Employers Labor Service have developed resources to mitigate health concerns on farms related to COVID-19.


Food Safety
The USDA has provided resources for industry members and consumers related to COVID-19 and food safety. More here.


Direct to Consumer Safety

Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses
Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. More here.

Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees, private non-profit organizations, or 501(c)(19) veteran organizations affected by COVID-19. More here.

Employee Rights Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act  requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. More here.

Maryland Coronavirus Information for Business
The State of Maryland has taken far-reaching and proactive steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 across our state. State agencies including the Department of Commerce remain prepared to serve our clients in the business community. More here.

Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. More here.

H-2A Visa Program
USDA plans to update its website with information and guidance at www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a. For solutions impacting agriculture labor visas, email AgLabor@usda.gov. This email account has been set up by USDA to receive stakeholder comments.

Impact of Coronavirus on Agriculture
A new page dedicated to providing information on how coronavirus is impacting agriculture is now active on American Farm Bureau’s website. More here.

Governor Hogan’s A-Z Resources Guide
Governor Hogan has released an A-Z Resource Guide, outlining the latest updates and actions Maryland has taken thus far. More here.

USDA Farmers.gov
Farmers.gov provides farmers, ranchers, private foresters, and agricultural producers with online services and information, including information on COVID-19, to increase efficiency and productivity while preserving and fostering long-held traditional relationships between local USDA offices and producers. More here.

USDA Rural Development
USDA Rural Development has launched a COVID-19 resource page to customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, etc. More here.

Latest Updates

Maryland Farmers Markets Operations During COVID-19 State of Emergency (April 7)
Markets that plan to remain open should be adopting practices that promote social distancing and mitigate the chance for infection To help individual markets implement these practices, MDA has created an FAQ document with guidance and best practices to ensure the safety of your staff, vendors and customers. More here.

Coronavirus Impact Ripples Across Farm Country (April 6)
From dairy farmers with nowhere to send their milk and cattle ranchers reeling from plummeting beef prices, the impact of the coronavirus is rippling through farm country. More here.

American Dairy Association Helps Retailers Keep Milk Available During National Pandemic (April 3)
Demand for milk and dairy products has shifted dramatically over the last few weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak. American Dairy Association North East is actively working with retailers in its six-state region to ensure a safe, abundant milk supply for consumers. More here.

DOL Releases Additional Guidance on H-2A (April 1)
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Foreign Labor Certification has released a Round 2 FAQ document regarding COVID-19. The FAQs address potential issues regarding the H-2A program. More here.

Enforcement Notice on Expiring CDLs (April 1)
The Department of Transportation is providing an extension until June 30th for anyone who has an expiring CDL and needs a physical to get it renewed. More here.

FSA and NRCS Services Available by Phone Appointment Only (April 1)
FSA and NRCS Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. Program delivery staff will
continue to come into to the office, but will be working with agricultural producers by phone and using
email and online tools whenever possible. More here.

Guidance for Food Supply Chain During “Stay at Home” Order (March 31)
Agriculture and food-related businesses remain essential, however individual companies are asked to make an honest assessment as to whether their operation is essential to public health and safety. More here.

State Police Enforcement Of Governor’s Executive Orders Continues (March 31)
Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow Jones III has directed troopers to continue their public education and enforcement efforts regarding the Governor’s Executive Orders and last night issued specific instructions regarding the stay-at-home order. More here.

USDA FSA Announces Loan Flexibility (March 31)
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced that they are relaxing the loan making process while also providing other loan flexibilities. More here.

COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program (March 31)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary enforcement discretion policy that applies to civil violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. This policy applies to livestock operations that have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and that are experiencing disruptions during the outbreak. More here.

Maryland NRCS Operational Status (March 27)
As precautionary health measures are put in effect nationwide to reduce the spread of coronavirus, USDA is taking steps to ensure the safety of its employees and customers. More here.

What’s in the CARES Act for Food and Agriculture (March 27)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has roiled the U.S. economy, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. More here.

Farmers Required to Provide Paid Leave to Employees (March 27)
Last week the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law. Two main provisions apply to agriculture employers; a requirement to provide paid leave and a requirement to provide paid sick leave. These requirements start April 2 and remain in effect through the end of the calendar year. More here.

State Department acts to accelerate H-2A approvals (March 27)
The State Department agreed to accelerate approvals of H-2A farmworkers by waiving interviews for many applicants, a move welcomed by agricultural groups who feared that embassy cutbacks amid the COVID-19 pandemic would leave farms without needed labor. More here.

American Farmland Trust Launches Farmer Relief Fund (March 27)
The coronavirus pandemic is impacting businesses that rely on direct contact with their customers, including farmers. To help directly support farmers impacted by the current crisis, American Farmland Trust is launching a new Farmer Relief Fund. More here.

Coronavirus Aid Package Critical for Farmers (March 25)
The coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. More here.

Stimulus provisions intended to help ‘all of ag’ (March 24)
A massive economic stimulus bill that congressional leaders were rushing to finish Tuesday could allow the Agriculture Department to provide multiple forms of aid to different sectors hit by the coronavirus epidemic as well as a fresh round of Market Facilitation Program payments. More here.

Farm Bureau appeals to Hill, Trump for help (March 24)
The American Farm Bureau Federation is circulating a three-page list of COVID-19 policy priorities that range from rolling back requirements of the H-2A visa program and suspending H-2A wage rates to providing unsecured loans to businesses of all sizes. More here.

Lawmakers seek to open door for more MFP, emergency farm aid (March 24)
Lawmakers may clear the way for another round of Market Facilitation Program payments as well as other aid to producers as part of a massive economic stimulus package that the Senate is considering. More here.

Agriculture Groups Call on Lawmakers to Support Farmers During Coronavirus Pandemic (March 24)
Forty-eight agriculture groups are calling on Congress to expand USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation. Congress must act to ensure the CCC has the authority and funding to assist farmers and ranchers facing serious cash flow challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. More here.

Farmers Call on Congress for Support (March 23)
As congressional leaders hammer out an agreement on a stimulus package in response to the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, farmers and ranchers are asking Congress for help that will allow them to keep planting, harvesting and raising the affordable food that’s vital to every American. More here.

Governor Hogan Announces $175 Million Relief Package for Workers and Small Businesses (March 23)
Governor Larry Hogan announced the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state and a $175 million relief package to assist employees, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations affected by the pandemic. More here.

USDA Service Centers Open for Business by Phone Appointment Only (March 23)
U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take proactive protective measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. More here.

SBA Offers Pandemic-related Small Business Loans (March 20)
The U.S. Small Business Administration has issued a “declaration of economic injury” for Maryland in response to the coronavirus pandemic, making small businesses eligible for low-interest loans of up to $2 million. More here.

Further Explanation of Tax Extensions Announced By Comptroller Franchot (March 20)
In recent days, Comptroller Peter Franchot has announced several deadline extensions for income tax and business tax payments and would like to remind Marylanders of these changes. Comptroller Franchot could extend these deadlines further, due to prolonged economic distress caused by the coronavirus pandemic. More here.

Coronavirus Tax Relief from the IRS (March 20)
The IRS has officially announced that tax day will be delayed from April 15 to July 15. The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. More here.

USDA Rural Development Now in Enterprise-Wide Remote Operational Status (March 20)
Deputy Under Secretary Bette Brand announced today that USDA Rural Development is implementing enterprise-wide remote operational status effective immediately. More here.

Coronavirus Complicates Census Count (March 20)
In the same week that Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) ordered bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms to be shut in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans got an invitation in the mail. More here.

Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response (March 19)
If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. The document was updated on March 28. More here.

Small Business Coalition Calls for Drastic Action (March 19)
As the U.S. confronts the coronavirus pandemic with unprecedented school, office and business closings, federal officials must take equally drastic action to help small businesses survive the crisis, 97 organizations representing all types of businesses and economic sectors said in a letter to administration and congressional leaders. More here.

COVID-19: Update to Food Supply Chain (March 19)
As the State of Maryland continues its unprecedented response to COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is emphasizing the need for businesses involved in the state’s food supply chain to continue production. More here.

Homeland Security deems agriculture as ‘critical infrastructure’ amid COVID-19 pandemic (March 19)
The Trump administration has labeled agriculture as a critical industry in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, allowing businesses to continue operating as usual amid current and potential restrictions created to stem the spread of the virus. More here.

Farmers Markets Should Continue Operations During State of Emergency (March 19)
Farm groups are appealing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take steps to speed the approval of H-2A workers following his department’s suspension of regular visa processing services in Mexico because of the COVID-19 outbreak. More here.

Access Healthcare Remotely with Prosper Benefits (March 19)
We know you are being flooded with information regarding the Coronavirus. As an Farm Bureau member, we would like to offer you a simple solution to some of the stress you and your employees may now be experiencing. More here.

COVID-19 Resources for Dairy Farmers (March 19)
As cases of the coronavirus disease (also known as COVID-19) continue to appear in the United States, many dairy farm families and small business owners are working to navigate the crisis and manage their operations the best they can. More here. 

Farm Groups Call on Pompeo to Speed H-2A Approvals (March 18)
Farm groups are appealing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take steps to speed the approval of H-2A workers following his department’s suspension of regular visa processing services in Mexico because of the COVID-19 outbreak. More here.

DOT Expands National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles (March 18)
The U.S. Department of Transportation 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. More here.

Farm Bureau Highlights Immediate Challenges Facing the Agriculture Sector (March 18)
American Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19. More here.

Secretary Bartenfelder on Maintaining Food Supply Chain During State of Emergency (March 17)
In response to the State of Maryland’s continuing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder has issued a statement regarding the state’s food supply chain. More here.

USDA Continues Focus on Service During COVID-19 Outbreak (March 17)
While President Donald J. Trump continues to take action during this COVID-19 National Emergency and enact measures to ensure Americans are safe, secure, and healthy, the U.S. Department of  of Agriculture continues to be open for business to provide services to the American people. More here.

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