CAAHP COVID-19 Resource – Announcements

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is Ending Soon!
Deadline for Most Lenders Will be August 3, 2020

Elizabeth Higgins, Ag Business Management/Production Economics Extension Specialist
Cornell Cooperative Extension|Eastern NY Commercial Hort Program

If you are on the fence about applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), you need to make your decision soon. According to SBA, because their last day to accept applications from banks is August 8, 2020, most lenders will stop accepting applications on or before August 3, 2020. 

Receiving 100% PPP loan forgiveness has become more accessible for businesses. Congress extended the period from 8 to 24 weeks, reduced the amount that needs to be used for payroll from 75% to 60% and also included flexibility for firms whose workforce has been reduced due to COVID-19 federal, state or local guidelines or where workers are not able or willing to return to work and the employer has made a good faith effort to re-hire or hire workers. 

Finally, the repayment period for PPP loans was increased from 2 years to 5 years. The PPP is a no-cost, federally guaranteed 1% loan, so even without full loan forgiveness, the terms are very good. 

If you are a good fit for the program, have any cash flow concerns this season, or are facing higher costs due to COVID-19 safety practices, you should apply for the PPP. It is the most generous federal COVID-19 program for businesses that meet its conditions.

The PPP is most likely to be beneficial to farms with high payroll costs or farms/businesses that had high net income on their Schedule F (or Schedule C) in 2019. Only the payroll for employees whose primary residence is the USA is eligible for PPP, but the definition of residence does not automatically exclude non-US citizen/visa workers. If your farm uses H2A, and your H2A workers have returned to your farm for many years and tend to stay for the full growing season (not just a short term harvest crew) they may meet the test for residency for PPP. In that case, their wages could qualify for the loan. 

If you have no paid employees in 2019 and negative net income on your schedule F, you probably will not be eligible for PPP. However, PPP will make you ineligible for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance and if you received an EIDL Advance, the amount of the advance will be subtracted from the amount of the PPP loan that can be forgiven, so it might not be worth getting a small PPP loan if you already received an EIDL advance and do not want a loan. The PPP may also affect your eligibility for some federal payroll tax credits. So there are some farms that should look at other options.

Farmers and Producers Can Apply Now for Financial Assistance through USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Applications due by August 28, 2020

Farmers and producers can still apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The application and a payment calculator are now available online. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone and fax. Online tools to help farmers complete applications are available on the farmers.gov/cfap website.

Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Through CFAP, the USDA is making $16 billion available for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19, and who face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

Producers may download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. A payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and to calculate potential payments can be found on that webpage.

Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process should call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a good first step before a producer engages the FSA county office team at their local USDA Service Center.

Applying for Assistance

Producers of all eligible commodities can submit CFAP application through the USDA online portal or mail it to their local FSA office. To find more information about applying online, visit https://bit.ly/CFAP online.

To streamline the signup process, the FSA is not requiring an acreage report at the time of application. A USDA farm number may also not be required upon application, but documentation to support the producer’s application and certification could be requested after your application is filed.

Additional Commodities

The USDA is also establishing a process for the public to identify additional commodities for potential inclusion in CFAP. Specifically, the USDA is looking for data on agricultural commodities not currently eligible for CFAP that the public believes to have either:

  • suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel
  • not left the farm or remained unharvested as mature crops.

Additional Commodities Eligible for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Applications for New Commodities Accepted Beginning July 13, 2020

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced an initial list of additional commodities that have been added to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), and that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made other adjustments to the program based on comments received from agricultural producers and organizations and review of market data. Producers will be able to submit applications that include these commodities on Monday, July 13, 2020. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting through Aug. 28, 2020, applications for CFAP, which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. USDA expects additional eligible commodities to be announced in the coming weeks.

“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA have stood with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” said Secretary Perdue. “When we announced this program earlier this year, we asked for public input and received a good response. After reviewing the comments received and analyzing our USDA Market News data, we are adding new commodities, as well as making updates to the program for existing eligible commodities. This is an example of government working for the people – we asked for input and we updated the program based on the comments we received.”

USDA collected comments and supporting data for consideration of additional commodities through June 22, 2020.

Changes to CFAP include:

  • Adding the following commodities: alfalfa sprouts, anise, arugula, basil, bean sprouts, beets, blackberries, Brussels sprouts, celeriac (celery root), chives, cilantro, coconuts, collard greens, dandelion greens, greens (others not listed separately), guava, kale greens, lettuce – including Boston, green leaf, Lolla Rossa, oak leaf green, oak leaf red and red leaf – marjoram, mint, mustard, okra, oregano, parsnips, passion fruit, peas (green), pineapple, pistachios, radicchio, rosemary, sage, savory, sorrel, fresh sugarcane, Swiss chard, thyme and turnip top greens.
  • Expanding for seven currently eligible commodities – apples, blueberries, garlic, potatoes, raspberries, tangerines and taro – CARES Act funding for sales losses because USDA found these commodities had a 5 percent or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, these commodities were only eligible for marketing adjustments.
  • Determining that peaches and rhubarb no longer qualify for payment under the CARES Act sales loss category.
  • Correcting payment rates for apples, artichokes, asparagus, blueberries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, garlic, kiwifruit, mushrooms, papaya, peaches, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, tangerines and taro.

Additional details can be found in the Federal Register in the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and Final Rule Correction and at www.farmers.gov/cfap.

Producers have several options for applying to the CFAP program:

  • Using an online portal, accessible at farmers.gov/cfap, allows producers with secure USDA login credentials—known as eAuthentication—to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center. New commodities will be available in the system on July 13, 2020.
  • Completing the application form using our CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator found at farmers.gov/cfap. This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed and submitted to their local USDA Service Center. An updated version with the new commodities will be available on the website on July 13, 2020.
  • Downloading the AD-3114 application form from farmers.gov/cfap and manually completing the form to submit to the local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically or by hand delivery to an office drop box. In some limited cases, the office may be open for in-person business by appointment. Visit farmers.gov/coronavirus/service-center-status to check the status of your local office.

USDA Service Centers can also work with producers to complete and securely transmit digitally signed applications through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan. Producers who are interested in digitally signing their applications should notify their local service centers when calling to discuss the CFAP application process. You can learn more about these solutions at farmers.gov/mydocs.

Getting Help from FSA

New customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap. For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.  

Farm Ops Trainings for Veterans Go Virtual for 2020

Our Farm Ops project is now offering virtual workshops for veterans in NYS interested in agriculture. These have been adapted from our typical hands-on trainings, providing learning and engagement opportunities while participants complete the workshops remotely. Topics will range from on-farm fertility treatments to specialty crops, and slow tools to general farm management. Workshops are open to all experience levels.

Learn more and register.

Please EMAIL drk5@cornell.edu if you have questions.

Guidance for Essential Workers Arriving in NY from U.S. States with Significant Community Spread

On June 24, 2020 the NY State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel. This was in response to the high rates of COVID-19 infection now occuring in many southern U.S. states. NYSDOH is providing a regularly updated list of the restricted states and it currently includes 16 states. The NYSDOH Guidance requires anyone entering NY from those states to quarantine for 14 days. Some NY agricultural producers source part of their seasonal farm workforce from the southern U.S., especially during the fall harvest when labor demands reach peak. The June 24 NYSDOH Guidance contains the following language specific to long-term, essential workers:

Long Term – for essential workers traveling to New York State for a period of greater than 36 hours, requiring them to stay several days. This includes instances such as an essential worker working on longer projects, fulfilling extended employment obligations, and other longer duration activities.
• Essential workers should seek diagnostic testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible upon arrival (within 24 hours) to ensure they are not positive.
• Essential workers should monitor temperature and signs of symptoms, wear a face covering when in public, maintain social distancing, clean and disinfect workspaces for a minimum of 14 days.
• Essential workers, to the extent possible, are required to avoid extended periods in public, contact with strangers, and large congregate settings for a period of, at least, 7 days.

Note that the first bulleted item above indicates that essential workers should seek diagnostic testing as soon as possible upon arrival. It seems logical that if an essential worker receives a negative result from a COVID-19 diagnostic test then they can discontinue quarantine, we are working to confirm with the state that this is the case but do not have confirmation at the time of this post.

Farm employees continue to be classified as “essential workers,” this means that farm employees can work during their quarantine period. They are required to maintain a strict routine while at work and employers are well-advised to support and reinforce this working quarantine in order to protect others employees. NYSDOH and NYS Dept of Ag and Markets clearly described the working quarantine protocol in the Interim Guidance for Prevention and Response of COVID-19 at Farms issued on May 27, 2020.

Workers who are considered essential personnel, as described in the Department’s Health Advisory: Protocols for Essential Personnel to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection, who meet quarantine criteria described above, may be allowed to work in accordance with the Department’s Health Advisory and if they:
• Remain asymptomatic.
• Remain in quarantine when not at work. Workers may be quarantined in their own home or at a location designated by the operator that meets LHD (local health department) quarantine requirements.
• If it is difficult to provide for 6 foot separation between essential workers while in quarantine, essential workers may be quarantined in a recreational vehicle, a motel/hotel room, at home in their own room, etc.
• Rely on LHDs and employers to provide essential needs such as healthcare, food, medications, and laundry.
• Undergo temperature monitoring and symptom checks upon arrival to work, and at least every 12 hours thereafter while at work, and self-monitor (i.e. take temperature, assess for symptoms)  twice a day when not at work. Operators must have thermometers on site to perform temperature checks.
• Wear a face covering while in the presence of any other individual.
• Immediately stop work and notify their supervisor if they develop ANY symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The LHD may be consulted on next steps as outlined below.
• Testing should be prioritized for essential personnel with symptoms.

COVID-19 diagnostic testing is available for all essential personnel. Contact your local health department for details about how to get the test.

_________________________________________________________________________________
By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post Guidance for Essential Workers Arriving in NY from U.S. States with Significant Community Spread appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

Resources for Farm Business Safety Plan Required in New York

As the New York Forward plan is implemented across the state, businesses of all kinds are required to have a COVID-19 written safety plan in place. Both essential agricultural businesses that have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and those non-food related agricultural businesses who will re-open must have a safety plan. A task force of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) specialists developed a new set of resources to help farms comply with this requirement and efficiently prepare plans during this busy time of the year. NY Forward Business Safety Plan Support for Farms contains:

  1. Plan Templates. Download these blank forms that you can use electronically to write your plan or simply print out and hand write your plan. Available in Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word formats.
  2. Considerations and Examples for Your Plan. The CCE team prepared two new documents that provide ideas for your consideration and examples of how you might complete your plan for common farm situations. The main document here is intended for most farms engaged in production agriculture and a companion document is for those farms that include retail sales as part of their business.
  3. Key References and Support Documents. A huge number of resources have been created since March. We have selected the most relevant documents that farms need to complete business safety plans, including guidance documents from state government and best management practice (BMP) documents from Cornell experts. These references focus on specific types of farms and their specialized needs.

We’ve also included quite a few related references and support articles. Access all of these resources at: https://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/ny-forward-business-safety-plan/. You can reach out to CCE business management educators across the state to assist with this important business safety task.

COVID-19 Safety Plans Required for All Businesses in “New York Forward”

New York Forward is the state’s plan to begin re-opening in phases as regions of the state achieve certain COVID-19 management metrics. An important part of New York Forward is for all businesses to have a customized, written safety plan that details specifically how each business will prevent and manage COVID-19. Details for particular industries, including agriculture can be found here: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase.

All Farms Need a Plan

All farms are required to have a written plan, this includes essential, food-producing farms (e.g., dairy, fruit, vegetable) that have been open all along, and non-food-producing farms (e.g., ornamental horticulture, equine). The state provides a Business Safety Plan Template that farmers can use to meet the requirement. Completed safety plans do “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.” If a business already has a prior written plan that addresses some or all of the issues in the safety plan, then that plan can be updated to current guidelines and used as the safety plan. A Cornell Extension team is working to develop further educational resources to help farms with safety plan compliance.

New Guidelines for Non-Food Farms

Detailed Guidelines for Non-Food Agriculture (e.g., ornamental horticulture, equine) is part of the New York Forward plan. These businesses may re-open as of May 15 if they are in a region that meets the state’s metrics, they have a safety plan developed, and they are actively carrying out all aspects of that plan. Note that the state instructs farms at the end of the guidance document to “affirm that you have read and understand your obligation to operate in accordance with this guidance: https://forms.ny.gov/s3/ny-forward-affirmation.”

Enforcement

It is not entirely clear at this time how the state will enforce the New York Forward guidance but most likely enforcement will be complaint driven as incidents arise. The New York Forward plan includes an online form and phone number for anyone to file a complaint, the NY State Department of Labor has a separate online form for employees to file COVID-19-related complaints against their employers. Certainly, businesses will need to provide their safety plans in the event of an actual COVID-19 case or outbreak in the business. Enforcement, however, should not be the primary motivating factor. Farm businesses should develop safety plans and continue safety practices to protect employees, customers, services providers, neighbors, and communities because it is the right thing to do.

Risk Management

A likely outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increase in lawsuits: customers might sue businesses they interacted with and employees might sue their employers for real or perceived injuries. These are highly uncertain times but farm businesses can take steps to help control the risk of being sued and improve their ability to defend themselves in court. This topic deserves a more complete discussion, but for now, consider taking every action you can to: 1. understand government requirements, 2. develop plans and procedures to meet requirements, 3. enforce discipline and compliance with established procedures in your workplace, and 4. document your plans, actions, and important decisions that affect employees and customers.

By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post COVID-19 Safety Plans Required for All Businesses in “New York Forward” appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

Pesticide License Certification and Business Registration During Pause-NY

The following information is from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Pesticides Management website (www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/298.html)

DEC is taking the following actions to temporarily allow regulatory flexibility and continued pesticide application and business operations during Pause-NY due to the unique conditions facing New York and the entire nation.

Certification Exams

In light of the Governor’s Directive for all non-essential state workers to continue to work from home through April 29th due to concerns with the coronavirus outbreak, at this time all certification exams currently scheduled through the end of April will be cancelled. The cancellations are necessary to attempt to protect the health and safety of those people seeking pesticide certification by examination, as well as DEC staff administering the exams. DEC will re-evaluate the situation in late April to determine if additional exams would need to be cancelled. DEC will also explore other ways to conduct exam sessions when scheduling resumes in order to accommodate such social distancing and other protective practices.

Recertification

Certified applicators and technicians are required to have a valid certification ID card in their possession in order to work. Many of them will not be able to obtain the continuing education credits required for recertification because all classroom courses are cancelled in the near term. Additionally, the only other method of qualifying for recertification, via a recertification exam, is not an option because the certification exam sessions through the end of April will be cancelled. There is computer-based training available, but that is not a good option for people in remote parts of the state or those who do not have access to computers or are not computer proficient. Enforcement discretion is being pursued to delay enforcement of the pesticide certification period.

At this time, DEC will allow any applicator whose certification lapsed on or after November 1, 2019, to continue to operate until 60 days after the expiration of Executive Order 202 and any extensions issued to it. Penalty training credits that would otherwise be required for these applicators, will also be waived. This extension will allow time for courses to start opening back up, recertification exams to become available, and for staff to keep pace with pending applications.

DEC will re-assess the situation periodically to determine if this allowance for certifications will need to be extended further. Certified applicators for whom this extension applies can carry a copy of the enforcement discretion letter along with their ID card to show customers, inspectors, commercial permittees, and others, as necessary, that they are still allowed to operate.

Business Registration

DEC will allow businesses and agencies whose registrations lapsed on or after March 1, 2020, to continue to operate during the current crisis, until 60 days after the expiration of Executive Order 202 and any extensions issued to it. This allowance for business registration expiration shall also apply to the expiration date on the pesticide application equipment/vehicle decals. The equipment/vehicle operator can carry a copy of the enforcement discretion letter as part of their proof that they are still allowed to operate.

Even though we will allow these applicators with expired certifications and businesses and agencies with expired registrations to continue to operate during this time, pesticide applicators and pesticide businesses are encouraged to submit their recertification and business registration renewal information to the DEC as soon as possible to avoid any future delays in the processing of these items. This action will not change re-certification dates and when the recertification paperwork is completed applicators will remain on their current recertification cycle.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email