COVID-19 Updates, Latest Information from Cornell University and NY State

June 1, 2020
Cornell Cooperative Extension – Herkimer County is open for business. We are following state and local guidelines to insure the health and safety of the public and our staff. Please follow this link to see our Reopening Plan and help us serve you.

July 27, 2020

Statement by New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball on Unsolicited, Mislabeled Packages of Seeds Being Sent from China: “Our office has received questions from a few New Yorkers who have received unsolicited packages allegedly sent from China that are marked as containing jewelry (or other items) but which actually contain plant seeds. Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating. People who receive seeds should not plant or handle the seeds. They should store them safely in a place children and pets cannot access and email USDA immediately at for instructions. Seeds imported into the United States are rigorously tested to ensure quality and prevent introduction of invasive species, insects and diseases. We will continue to monitor this issue and will pass along guidance as it is received from USDA.”

June 17, 2020

Cornell Cooperative Extension staff across New York state have witnessed first-hand how hard our farmers have been working throughout the pandemic to help keep our food system safe and secure. We wanted to come together (digitally) to show our appreciation for all they do on our behalf. Thank you, farmers! You are essential, vital, and so deeply appreciated!

June 9, 2020

Business Safety Plans Required For All Farms
Cornell Cooperative Extension Webinar Series on developing safety plans for compliance and to reduce liability risk

New York State requires businesses to have a specific business safety plan in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes all farms, both food and non-food producing. In addition, a well-written and executed business safety plan will help reduce business liability risk during and after the pandemic. A Cornell Task Force recently developed materials to directly support farms in the plan writing process.

Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development are offering a “NY Forward Business Safety Plan Support” webinar series with specialized webinars for Dairy/Livestock/Crop Farms, Fruit/Vegetable Farms, Retail Farms, Equine Farms and Greenhouse/Landscaping/Ornamental Farms.

The webinars, led by Extension specialists, will:

  • Walk farmers through the need for and process to complete a safety plan as is required by all businesses for compliance with NY Forward
  • Demonstrate project tools developed by Extension to write and complete a plan
  • Share curated resources for specific industries


The webinars are free and pre-registration is required. Recording links will be posted on the Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development NY Forward Business Safety Plans page.

May 22, 2020
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Herkimer County is distributing hand sanitizer and face coverings to farmers and agricultural workers. Partnering with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the NYS Fairgrounds, the CCE Herkimer County office is supplying “NYS Clean” hand sanitizer and face coverings to the county’s agricultural community. These items will be distributed by appointment on a first call/email basis at our office in East Herkimer. Appointments can be made via email at or by calling our office at (315) 866-7920. Appointments are available 9-3:00 pm, Monday-Friday. Please indicate the date and time you would prefer to come and wait for us to confirm your appointment before arriving at the office. Delivery is not available.

We will ask for the name of your farm, a contact phone number, the number of employees (or family members), what category you fall into and the amount requested. The categories are: farm stand, U-pick, CSA, farm employee housing, packing house facility, dairy & livestock, nursery & horticulture, or craft beverage. These supplies are limited, so requests should include the needs for employees arriving for later in the season. Orders for facial coverings should be calculated for two covers per employee to allow for washing. 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. The free products are available thanks to Gov. Cuomo and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

May 20, 2020
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.

See the full report here.

May 15, 2020 
Horticulture Now Included in Statewide Reopening

Under the New York Forward plan, Landscaping, Gardening and Horticulture has now been deemed “essential” statewide, as part of a low-risk business that can continue during the pandemic.  This guidance applies to every landscaping or horticulture business, regardless of where their region is in the overall reopening phase.  You can confirm the inclusion of Horticulture as “essential” on this link.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued guidance specifically for horticulture and landscaping operations.

Horticulture operations are deemed as “horticultural activities include the production, maintenance and sale of vegetable plants, nursery stock, trees, sod, plants at greenhouse and nursery operations and sod farms, and the agribusinesses (i.e. pest, weed, and nutrient management) that support their operations.   Landscaping and gardening, as well as sod farms, are also eligible for reopening under the new guidance, regardless of where their region is on the phased re-opening.

Horticulture operations may now be fully open for business, but MUST follow both the interim guidance linked above and the guidance for non-food agriculture production.

For more information, including landscaping specific information, see full article.

May 8, 2020
Cornell Pesticide Management Education Program Provides Pesticide Use Guidance During COVID-19

Along with the increased use of disinfectants and sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in adverse health effects from the misuse of these products. There have also been several fraudulent products produced during this time that potential applicators should be made aware of. Please read and share the following statements from Cornell’s Pesticide Management Education Program (

Beware of fraudulent pesticide claims related to SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 coronavirus):

It has come to our attention that unregistered disinfectants claiming to protect against the virus are being marketed in the US. The efficacy and safety of these products is unsubstantiated and their use is illegal.

Regulators are taking steps to prevent such products from reaching the market, but it is your responsibility to use only those products designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for use against SARS-CoV-2. Please check this list frequently, as content is subject to change.

Be safe disinfecting your home:

Disinfectants are pesticides and you can only use them as directed by the label. Therefore:

  • Never mix different disinfectant products together because doing so is dangerous. For example, mixing bleach with acids (such as vinegar) or ammonia releases life-threatening toxic fumes.
  • Never use disinfectants or disinfectant wipes on your skin. Instead, wash with soap and water; you can also use hand sanitizer on your hands.
  • Never wash fruits and vegetables with soap, sanitizers, or disinfectants as this could also result in poisoning. Wash produce only in clean water.

Click these links for more information on disinfecting your home and how to handle food during this crisis.

May 4, 2020
New York State Provides Additional Details on $25 Million in Funding for Food Banks Through Nourish New York Initiative

Funding Will Be Distributed Regionally to Food Banks and Emergency Food Providers Based on Need.
Food Banks Will Use Funding for Drive-Through Food Distribution Events, Voucher Programs at Grocery Stores, and the Direct Purchase of Products From New York Producers and Processors

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and Department of Health provided additional details on the distribution of the $25 million Nourish New York initiative, as announced yesterday by Governor Cuomo. Funding will be allocated regionally and based on need, from the State’s special public health emergency fund, for food banks and emergency food providers across the state. The Nourish New York initiative, launched by the Governor on Monday, is working to quickly reroute New York’s surplus agricultural products to the populations who need them most through New York’s network of food banks.  Read the full article here…

May 1, 2020
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Requesting Information to Connect Impacted Producers to Purchasing Opportunities

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in coordination with its partners, is reaching out to New York producers that have surplus agricultural products as a result of COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions. The Department is working to connect affected farmers to potential new purchasing opportunities through various institutions, such as food banks, retailers and more. Governor Cuomo has made a commitment to using local foods to support the emergency food system, and we are looking to connect producers to food banks and those in need. This information will be provided to the Department’s partners and posted on its website.

If you are a producer with surplus product, the Department asks that you send your name, contact information, and the type of product(s) you have in surplus to Lindsey McMahon at  Please provide this information by Monday, May 4th, 2020, if possible.

April 28, 2020
Best Management Practices for U-Pick Farms During the COVID-19 Pandemic

U-Pick is a critical direct marketing approach for many of our farms and provides customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. This document provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick
operations for the 2020 season.  Actions outlined in this document will help protect you and your team as well as reassure customers that you are taking steps to protect them and the produce you grow.  Find the recommendations here.

These recommendations were prepared by:

  • Anusuya Rangarajan, Elizabeth Bihn, Marvin Pritts, and Julie Suarez, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University.
  • Laura McDermott and Esther Kibbe, Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Please visit the Cornell Small Farms Program for most up-to-date versions, including any additions and revisions.

Upcoming Webinar on U-Pick

If you are a berry grower and have questions about these recommendations, Laura McDermott, CCE Berry Specialist with the ENY Horticulture Team, is hosting a webinar.

Best Management Practices for U-Pick During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday, April 30, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Join via Skype for Business at:

April 27, 2020
USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

As part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program Secretary Perdue announced on April 17 that the USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat.

USDA will issue a solicitation to invite proposals from offerors to supply commodity boxes to non-profit organizations, identified by the offeror, on a mutually agreeable, recurring schedule. USDA will award contracts for the purchase of the agricultural products, the assembly of commodity boxes and delivery to identified non-profit organizations that can receive, store and distribute food items.

Agricultural Marketing Service’s Commodity Procurement Program will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

For details on purchases, visit the solicitations page.

Request for Proposal and Applicable Attachments

Additional Resources


Small Business Paycheck Protection Program Additional Funding Bill
See the PPP And USDA Presentation 4-23-2020.  There have been some updates in regard to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance.  Agriculture is now eligible for the EIDL and SBA loans.

April 14, 2020
Updated Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Food Manufacturing Facilities or Food Retail Stores
On April 11, the NYS Department of Health released updated interim guidance for cleaning and disinfection of food manufacturing facilities and/or food retail stores in response to COVID-19.

To help prevent spread of COVID-19, procedures and supplies should be in place to encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene as well as routine cleaning and disinfection of high-risk locations. This guidance is provided for any food manufacturing facilities, food distribution centers or food retail stores so that owners, operators and other individuals can incorporate these procedures into their facility protocols. View the updated interim guidance here.

Food Industry Virtual Office Hours to Answer Questions on COVID-19 and Its Impact on the Food Industry
The Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University invites you to join an online session of Food Industry Office Hours on Tuesday, April 14 from 4 pm to 5 pm. This session offers you the opportunity to speak directly to Cornell University Food Safety Experts in dairy, fresh produce, and processed foods and beverages. Food safety experts will answer your questions on COVID-19 and its impact on the food industry. Dr. Kalmia Kniel, a virologist from the University of Delaware, and Dr. Tatiana Lorca, RD&E Food Safety & Quality Program Leader at Ecolab, Inc. will join subject matter experts from Cornell to provide additional expertise on viruses as well as sanitation. You can ask questions live during the office hours or submit them in advance to: Registration is not required.

Join the Zoom Meeting here.  For more information, see more here.  *Ask questions live or submit questions in advance to:

Special Dairy Foods Industry Office Hours to Address Questions on COVID-19
Join the Dairy Foods Research Centers on April 16, from 4-5 p.m. for a special Dairy Foods Industry Office Hours focused on how the Dairy Foods Industry is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. This special online session will allow you to speak directly to a panel of experts from the Dairy Foods Research Centers, Dairy Management, Ecolab and Matrix Sciences International. See below for the complete list of panelists.

Please register here. See more information here.  *Ask questions live or submit questions in advance to:

April 10, 2020
Cornell Small Farms gathers financial resources, other guidance, for farmers
Cornell Small Farms is working hard to support the farming community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newest offering they have created and are maintaining is a page listing financial resources, loans, grants, and funds that are available to farmers.

Additionally, the program has created a resource list for creating market resiliency by learning how to use online marketing and platforms, and direct-to-consumer marketing.

While social distancing may close some doors for small farmers, others may open in the form of educational o

pportunities. Cornell Small Farms also has a page of educational opportunities for professional development, business, and marketing.

April 3, 2020
Dairy Responding to COVID-19: A Limited Podcast Series
Cornell’s PRO-DAIRY Program released a podcast on April 1, 2020 that discusses how dairy farmers are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the podcast, they talk with folks across the industry, including dairy farmers, veterinarians, nutritionists, and share how they’re minimizing exposure, instituting new practices, and getting milk on the shelf. Follow the link below to listen to the podcast on SoundCloud:

Featured speakers: Mark Stevenson, Vice President, Milk Division, Cayuga Marketing; Rob Lynch, DVM, Dairy Herd Health and Management Specialist, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY; and Kathy Barrett, Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY.


The Cornell Farmworker Program and Finger Lakes Community Health present:
“Farmworkers and Coronavirus: What you should know and what you can do now” webinar,  on Tuesday April 7, 12 – 1 p.m.

The Cornell Farmworker Program and Finger Lakes Community Health are partnering to host a webinar with Jose Canario, M.D. Dr. Canario will give an overview and respond to questions. This session is aimed at farm producers and service providers. Anyone interested in attending should fill out the online registration form.

Register here


CARES Act’s Emergency Resources for Farm Businesses: Paycheck Protection Loan Program – Beginning on April 3, 2020

The recent CARES Act provided additional emergency funding through Small Business Administration (SBA) for businesses who are facing losses due to COVID-19.

If you are a farm business, the most important program to be aware of right now is the Paycheck Protection Loan Program, which was authorized in the CARES Act. Farms that meet SBA small business thresholds are eligible to apply for this low interest, forgivable loan program. Please note that SBA’s definition of a small business and USDA’s definition of a small farm are NOT the same and you are held to the much more generous SBA standard (generally fewer than 500 employees) for this program.

Paycheck Protection Loans will be available starting on April 3, 2020 to cover payroll costs, utilities, mortgage interest or rent. The interest rate on the Paycheck Protection Loan is .5%, with a maturity of 2 years. The first payment due is delayed for 6 months from origination of the loan. For many businesses this loan could be a very affordable way of accessing working capital this year by freeing up the cash you have on hand for other purposes.

Find all the details here.

March 30, 2020 
Protecting Your Family from COVID-19, by Dr. David Price, YouTube Video
Dr. David Price is a critical care pulmonologist caring for COVID-19 patients all day in NYC at Weill Cornell Hospital. He has a lot of great information to share. In the last portion he answers some fantastic questions. It’s almost an hour and a cuts out a bit, so be patient and learn from this hero on the front-lines.

March 24, 2020
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets issued interim guidance on March 24, 2020 for Horticulture and Nursery/Greenhouse operations during the “NYS On Pause” period You can find a link to the guidance here.

 COVID-19 response:

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

General Questions & Links: NY Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)

Food Production, Processing & Safety Questions

Employment & Agricultural Workforce Questions

Cornell Small Farms Resiliency Resources

Financial & Mental Health Resources for Farmers

March 23, 2020
Following the recommendations of the New York State Department of Health, we have closed our offices to the public until further notice. We will still be able to answer questions and help on other matters. Call us at 315-866-7920 or email us at  We are checking our messages and will get back to you as soon as we can.

Requests for soil testing will be by appointment only. Please make an appointment via phone or email to drop off a soil sample and payment. You may also print the forms from the Dairy One Agronomy Services webpage and mail directly to the lab.

Coronavirus (COVID 19) information from Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University

Find the latest information on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well quick links to more at NY EDEN

NY Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) 

Find EDEN on Facebook

Follow EDEN on Twitter

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