As the situation surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the state and national response to it continue to evolve, we want to keep you informed about how the changes are affecting Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, our state’s agriculture sector and other aspects of daily life.


Nationally, President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency, and, at the state level, Gov. Tom Wolf has closed schools and ordered major restrictions on daily life and commerce in an effort to slow the virus’s spread in the Keystone State. Across the nation, individuals, businesses and organizations are being encouraged to take proactive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to protect the public health and ensure that our health care system has the capacity to treat those who need care.


Below is important information based on what’s currently available. As the situation continues to change, please check back for additional updates and the most up-to-date information.


Pennsylvania Farm Bureau  | Agriculture  | Daily Life
Farm Bureau Advocacy
| Help/Resources About COVID-19
Contacting PF

 

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau


Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and its affiliated companies—including MSC Business Services, Safemark, PFB Health Services, and pfbSOLUTIONS—continue to serve members and clients. 

 

With Cumberland County—where PFB’s Camp Hill office is located—now in the green phase of the governor’s reopening plan, PFB is in the process of a phased reopening of the office while talking steps to protect the health and safety of members and employees.


Visitors will be allowed but must provide advanced notice and follow certain protocols, including wearing a mask within the building. When in person meetings resume, they will be limited to fewer than 25 attendees.


Please note that all employees, whether they are physically in the office or working remotely, are working and ready to assist members with a variety of matters.

 

Contacting PFB:

PFB staff are working during this time and are accessible and able to help our members. In addition, PFB’s family of companies remain open, including Safemark, which can handle member’s needs for tires and other equipment, and MSC Business Services, which is available to help members and their businesses.

  • PFB Government Affairs and Communications staff can be reached at 717.761.2740 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Email is the quickest way to get answers to your inquiry. If calling, please MAKE SURE to leave a voice mail, which will be returned as staff are available. See below for contacts for specific matters.

 

Media inquiries, publications
and communications
:

Liam Migdail
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717.724.9425
  State government affairs, transportation
and environmental issues
:

Darrin Youker

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717.731.3582
     
Federal government affairs
and regulatory questions
:

Kristina Watson
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717.731.3585
  Legal questions:
Joe Montenegro
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717.731.3572
     

Wildlife or domestic animal issues, and communications:

Bill Zeiders

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717.731.3541

 

Events, PFB Annual Meeting and print advertising:

Kim Flegal

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717.731.3580

  • Safemark can  be contacted at 717.724.9484  
  • MSC Business Services can be contacted at 717.731.3517. You can also contact your account supervisor if you are already a client.
  • PFB Health Services can be reached at 1.800.522.2375.
  • Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation staff can be reached at 717.761.2740.

Agriculture


Agricultural operations are allowed, and encouraged, to remain in operation during the pandemic to ensure a safe and accessible food supply. However, farms are facing a number of new challenges as a result of COVID-19, including market disruptions, a sharp decline in commodity prices, labor shortages and delays in food processing.

  

Click here for American Farm Bureau Federation's information on how COVID-19 is affecting agriculture on a national level.

 

PFB has compiled the following information related to guidance, changes, and resources that relate to agriculture during this time.

 

 

Pennsylvania state orders and reopening status

 

Gov. Tom Wolf has established a three-phase reopening plan that mirrors the colors of a stoplight.

  • In the red phase, only businesses that are considered “life-sustaining” or that have been granted waivers may keep their physical locations open and residents are subject to stay-at-home orders. Restaurants and bars may offer carry-out or delivery only.
  • In the yellow phase, many businesses may reopen and stay-at-home orders are lifted but aggressive mitigation and social distancing measures remain in effect, including the requirement for employees and customers to wear masks at businesses. Telecommuting must continue when feasible and gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. Bars and restaurants may offer limited, outdoor dining only. Indoor recreation, entertainment and personal care businesses must remain closed.
  • In the green phase, most may open and some mitigation measures are lifted but all residents and business must follow Centers for Disease Control and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.
  • Click here to learn more details about each phase.

The following counties are currently in each phase:

  • Green: All counties

state Health Department order requires masks to be worn in public spaces (except when maintaining at least six-feet distance outdoors) with certain exceptions for: children under the age of two; individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability or who would not be able to remove a mask without assistance; or individuals working in a condition where local, state or federal regulations or guidelines determine that wearing a mask would create a safety concern.

 

Gov. Tom Wolf recently issued a new order further restricting operations at bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries and similar operations in an effort to prevent new outbreaks of COVID-19. The order prohibits bar service and requires that food and beverages be served at a booth or table. Alcohol sales for on-premise consumption are allowed only when transactions also include food; however, take-out alcohol sales are permitted. Occupancy for indoor dining is limited to 25 percent of fire code capacity. In addition, nightclubs must be closed, telework is required when possible and indoor events are restricted to 25 people or fewer, including staff.. 

 

Businesses, including farms, are required to continue worker-protection measures outlined by the state throughout all phases of the reopening plan, including requiring masks to be worn at all times. Click here for important information about requirements and guidance for each phase.

 

Safety guidance for agriculture:

 

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and other agencies and organizations have issued guidance and recommendations for agriculture businesses to operate in a manner that helps to limit the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of farmers, employees and the public.

  • Click here for PDA’s guidance for farms.
  • Click here for PDA’s guidance for farmers markets and on-farm markets.
  • Click here  for PDA’s guidance for grocery stores, which should also be followed by any farm with a public-facing business.
  • Click here for PDA's guidance on protecting seasonal farm worker safety. 
  • Click here for the Centers for Disease Control's detailed guidance for protecting farmers and agricultural workers. The guidance is available in both English and Spanish. 
  • Click here for guidance for food processing facilities to ensure worker safety.
  • Click here  for guidance for dairy producers from the Center for Dairy Excellence, including recommendations for protecting employees.
  • Penn State Extension has also issued detailed guidance for minimizing risks at farmers markets and on-farm retail operations. Click here for more information.
  • Food processors should follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance for preventing spread of COVID-19 within their facilities. Click here for complete details.
  • Livestock markets should follow certain protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Click here for complete details.
  • Guidance is available for what food retailers and processors should do if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. Click here for complete details.
  • The governor's office has posted information about the necessity of maintaining access to our food supply. Click here for more information.

Other changes affecting farms and agriculture:

 

    Transportation:
  • PennDOT Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers have been reopening on a staggered basis with some limits on hours and services. Click here to for specifics on which centers are open, hours and services available.
  • Driver licenses, photo ID cards and learner’s permits that have an expiration date between March 16 and July 31, will be valid until July 31. PennDOT had previously extended the expiration date for vehicle registrations of all classes, safety and emissions inspection stickers and disability parking placards until June 30; however, the expiration dates for those products are not being extended again.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation is allowing some flexibility on drug and alcohol testing requirements in areas where testing availability is limited due to COVID-19. Click here to learn more. DOT has also provided additional guidance on drug and alcohol testing during the pandemic. Click here to learn more.

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a waiver from some CDL-related regulations through Sept. 30. Click here for more information.
  • PennDOT has issued an exemption until at least Aug.14 to weight restrictions for commercial vehicles transporting livestock, feed and some types of supplies needed to respond to COVID-19. Such commercial vehicles may carry loads up to 90,000 pounds except on weigh-restricted bridges and certain bridges between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Click here for more information.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended until at least Aug. 14 an exemption for livestock haulers from Hours of Service rules that limit drive time. Click here for additional information.
  Federal government operations:
  • USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide $16 billion in direct aid to farmers based on actual losses due to COVID-19, is now open. Producers should apply through their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center or through an online portal. While USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, FSA is working with agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools to process applications. Please call your FSA county office to schedule an appointment. Click here for details on the program and how payments will be calculated. A CFAP Call Center is available for producers who would like additional one-on-one support with the CFAP application process. Please call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. Frequently asked questions about this program can be found here.
  • USDA Farm Service Agency is relaxing its loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need. Click here to learn more.
  • USDA Risk Management Agency is offering flexibility related to crop insurance, including enabling producers to send notifications and reports electronically, extending the date for production reports and providing additional time and deferring interest on premium and other payments. Click here to learn more.

  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has closed the the southern border with Mexico but has clarified that agricultural workers and lawful cross-border trade are essential travel that may continue. Click here to learn more.

  • The FDA is relaxing certain regulatory requirements to allow veterinarians to better utilize telemedicine to address animal health. Click here to learn more.
  • USDA Service Centers will serve Pennsylvania farmers by appointment only. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other USDA agency must call their service center to schedule an appointment. Click here to learn more.
  Environmental compliance:   
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued temporary enforcement discretion for livestock farms with NPDES permits so that farms making every effort to comply with environmental regulations are not penalized for complications related to COVID-19-related disruptions. That includes assurance that EPA will excuse permitted concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that house more animals than normal because they are unable to send animals off-site. Click here to learn more and see the complete details. 
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is considering on a case-by-base basis requests from farms and other businesses for relief from certain regulations and/or permit obligations in cases where strict compliance will prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the COVID-19 emergency. To learn more or make a request, click here and select "Requesting Suspension of Regulation or Permit Condition."
  • The State Conservation Commission has issued guidance on legal disposal of animals that must be euthanized or culled on the farm. Click here for more information.
  • Pesticide applicator exams have resumed on a limited basis. Click here to learn more.
  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial and technical assistance to swine and poultry producers for animal mortality disposal, resulting from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistance for the Emergency Animal Mortality Management practice is available in certain states. Click here to learn more.
  • EPA has issued guidance on conducting pesticide safety training sessions during the pandemic. Click here for more information.

  Dairy:  
  • Farm Bureau is aware of cases of producers being asked to dump milk due to supply chain and demand complications related to COVID-19. We are continuing to advocate for dairy producers at both the state and federal levels in an effort to help bring about a solution to this situation and ensure producers have the resources they need to continue their important work.

  • See our Help/Resources section for information on state financial assistance for producers who have been told to dump milk or who have been assessed a fee by their cooperative to cover costs associated with dumped milk.
     

  • PDA has offered the following guidance for producers who have to dump milk:  

    •  If the milk never left the farm, it may be disposed of in the manure storage.  
    •  If the milk was sent to the processor and returned, the product that came back from the processer would be considered Food Processing Residuals, which is under the authority of DEP. Click here for the relevant sections of DEP’s food processing residual manual, which would need to be followed.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued temporary guidelines for dairy farmers who must take emergency action to dispose their excess milk on their farms. The guidelines direct that field application of their excess milk should only be done as a last resort, after other options for disposal are considered. The guidelines would also require farmers to keep and maintain records of all action taken in disposal of milk waste and make records available to DEP when requested. The guidelines impose specific restrictions in locations and amounts of milk waste and require CAFO and CAO dairy operations subject to nutrient management plan requirements to file reports identifying disposal activities deviating from their approved plans. Farmers who fully comply with the guidelines for emergency milk disposal are provided “temporary relief” from regulatory standards that may specifically apply to land applications of “milk waste” but do not relieve farmers from regulatory standards for disposal of other waste substances. Click here for more information.
  • Producers are encouraged to document all losses so they can apply for disaster assistance if it is made available through USDA.
  • Click here for additional information from PDA. 
  • Click here for important information on pooling of dumped milk.
  • Click here for guidance from the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board related to milk dumping.
  • USDA's Risk Management Agency is offering flexibility related to its programs, including Dairy Revenue Protection, for producers who are told to dump milk. Click here to learn more.
  • Click here for COVID-19 resources for dairy producers from the Center for Dairy Excellence.
  • Click here for COVID-19 resources from the National Milk Producers Federation.
  • USDA has granted producers flexibility in regulations related to dumping milk. Click here for a letter from Federal Milk Order No. 1 outlining the changes and here for a summary of FMMO actions related to COVID-19. 
   Farm labor / employees:  
  • The Centers for Disease Control has issued detailed guidance for protecting farmers and agricultural workers as they continue their essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is available in both English and Spanish. Click here for additional information.
  • Pennsylvania has issued guidance on best practices for maintaining the health and safety of seasonal farm workers, including those working through the H-2A visa program. The guidance includes information on how existing requirements for worker housing fit into recent state Health Department orders related to worker safety as well as guidance on what to do if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. Click here for more information.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began enforcing new rules on employer COVID-19 reporting May 26. Employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19. Employers with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from this requirement except in cases where work-related cases of COVID-19 result in a fatality or an employee’s in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. In determining whether a case of COVID-19 is work-related, employers are not expected to conduct a full medical investigation but may ask the employee how he or she believes that he or she contracted COVID-19 and consider evidence that suggests the case is likely work-related, such as whether there are cases among other employees, whether the employee became sick soon after close exposure to a customer or coworker who was sick and whether the employee's job requires him or her to be in close contact with the public in an area where there is community spread. The case is likely not work-related if the employee is the only worker to contract COVID-19 and does not come in contact with the public at work; and/or if the employee has had close contact outside of work with someone who has COVID-19. Click here to see OSHA's complete guidance.
  • The U.S. Department of State is expanding the number of H-2A visa applicants allowed to forgo an in-person interview, which will allow more agricultural guest workers to arrive to work on U.S. farms. Click here for additional information. This change was needed because visa services for immigrants and non-immigrants had been suspended by U.S. Consular Operations in Mexico and elsewehre, which affected the arrival of workers through the H-2A program. Farm Bureau sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to recognize visa processing for H-2A and other non-immigrant agricultural workers as “essential” and to treat all agricultural worker appointments as emergency visa services. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has also asked members of the state’s congressional delegation to sign onto a similar but separate letter from members of Congress.     

  • Click herehere and here for information from the U.S. Department of Labor that includes important information for H-2A employers. Note: There are three separate rounds of FAQs.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor announced they will work together to help identify foreign and domestic workers that may be available to transfer to other U.S. agricultural employers. Click here to learn more.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a temporarily rule allowing farm employers concerned their workers will not be able to enter the country to hire workers with H-2A visas who are already in the U.S. The move also temporarily allows H-2A workers to stay in the U.S. beyond the three-year maximum. Click here to learn more.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced temporary flexibility for verifying employment eligibility using form I-9 if the prospective employee is not able to renew a List B document. When the employee provides an acceptable, expired List B document that has not been extended, the employer should record the document information in Section 2 under List B; enter “COVID-19” in the additional information field; and, within 90 days after DHS’s termination of the temporary policy, require the employee to present a valid unexpired document to replace the expired document presented when they were initially hired.
  • DOL has made 91.8 million in grant funding available for eligible entities, such as state workforce agencies, workforce agencies of outlying areas, non-profits to support projects designed to help farm workers and their dependents acquire necessary skills to either stabilize or advance in their agricultural jobs or obtain employment in new industries or occupations; and assist these individuals in securing safe and sanitary permanent and temporary housing. Click here to learn more.
  • A coronavirus-relief bill passed by Congress and signed by the president requires businesses with 500 or fewer employees to offer paid sick leave to employees affected by COVID-19 and expands the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Click here for guidance on these new requirements from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

  • Important safety information for farm employers is available by clicking here
  State government opperations:  
  • The Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory and Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) remain open. See the most up-to-date information on hours for the Penn State site here and for the New Bolton site here
  • Businesses that collect Pennsylvania sales tax will not have to make Accelerated Sales Tax prepayments for April, May and June and will not be charged penalties for missing the prepayment deadline during this three-month period. Click here to learn more. 
  • Pennsylvania will direct nearly $16 million in federal and state funds to help food banks respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to learn more.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture regional offices are closed.
   Extension:   
  • Penn State has canceled all public events through at least June 30, which will affect Cooperative Extension programs. Registration fees paid for cancelled events will be refunded. Some events will be rescheduled and people who registered previously will receive an invitation to attend. Click here to learn more.
  • Penn State Extension has created a website to serve as a one-stop shop for all COVID-19 resources and services. Click here to learn more.

  • Penn State Extension offices are closed but staff remain available to support the agriculture community virtually. Click here to learn more.

 

Daily Life

  • The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin announced that tax filing deadlines will be extended from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. The deadline for 2019 income tax payments for individuals up to $1 million and for C corporations up to $10 million has been extended to July 15.  Click here to learn more.

  • Pennsylvania has also extended the deadline for filing state personal income taxes until July 15. Some local governments have also extended tax-filing deadlines. Check with your local Earned Income Taxing authority to see if they have extended the filing deadline.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is providing flexibility to meet tax obligations and suspending some enforcement actions, including allowing taxpayers to pause existing payment plans and suspending or reducing automatic enforcement actions regarding liens, wage garnishments, bank attachments, license inspections, requirements for tax clearances and use of private collection agencies. Click here to learn more.
  • Local governments - including counties, municipalities and school districts - have the option to extend the deadline to pay property taxes by December 31, 2020 and waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by that date. While local governments have this option, it is up to those individual governments whether to extend the tax deadline.
  • Local governments may conduct public meetings remotely and school districts may renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure.
  • Documents may be notarized remotely.
  • The federal deadline to enforce REAL ID has been extended until October 2021, a one-year extension. Click here to learn more.
  • The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has shifted to a cashless-only tolling system to avoid face-to-face interactions between toll booth workers and drivers. As a result, cash and credit cards will no longer be accepted at turnpike toll booths. Customers who have E-ZPass can continue to use it as normal. Customers who don't have E-ZPass should continue to use lanes marked “Tickets” on entry and “Cash” on exit, however they should keep moving through the lane at the posted speed without stopping. Instead of paying their toll on the roadway, they will receive a TOLL BY PLATE invoice through the mail. Click here to learn more. 

 

Farm Bureau Advocacy


Throughout these uncertain times, Farm Bureau is working for you at both the state and national levels to make sure you are able to continue your important work ensuring a safe and accessible food supply.

What we’ve done:

  • Sought clarifications and additions of agriculture-related businesses to the governor’s “life sustaining” business list, including forestry and sawmills.  

  • Supported passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed on March 27. The measure will: Replenish $14 billion of the Commodity Credit Corporation’s spending authority; create a $9.5 billion emergency fund for producers, including dairy and cattle producers, fresh fruit and vegetable growers, and local food systems like farmers markets; provide extra funds for USDA’s APHIS, FSIS, AMS and rural development; and provide cash payments to individuals and will reduce or delay taxes paid by many farm and ranch businesses.

  • Successfully advocated for Pennsylvania to extend the deadline to file state personal income taxes until July 15. Some local governments have also extended tax-filing deadlines. Check with your local Earned Income Taxing authority to see if they have extended the filing deadline.
  • Sent a letter to members of the General Assembly outlining PFB's priorities for the state budget.
  • Successfully advocated for the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to issue special guidance to milk processors that use Pennsylvania milk so that they clearly understand their obligations to ensure that dumped milk gets included in the Federal Order, as well as their options for paying producers. 
  • Sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to help remedy supply-chain issues farmers are facing by taking steps to help food processors protect worker safety, including making rapid testing for COVID-19 available and ensuring processors can access needed personal protective equipment. Click here to see the letter. 
  • Sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to emphasize the importance of allowing critical infrastructure food companies to responsibly and safely continue their operations to the fullest extent possible without undue disruption. Click here to see the letter.
  • Urged lawmakers to address the closures of PennDOT rest stops and Turnpike plazas so that truck drivers have access during this time for critical deliveries.

  • Successfully advocated for temporary changes to H-2A visa requirements to help facilitate U.S. farms' access to agricultural guest workers amid COVID-19-related restrictions on visa processing activities. Farm Bureau continues to advocate for additional measures to further expand access to H-2A workers at this time. 

  • Secured for livestock farms with NPDES permits regulatory and enforcement flexibility from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency so that farms making every effort to comply with environmental regulations are not penalized as a result of complications due to COVID-19-related disruptions. Click here to learn more.

  • Successfully advocated for flexibility with USDA programs including crop insurance, FSA loans, disaster assistance and conservation programs to help farmers during this time. The changes include relaxing the FSA loan making process, extending some deadlines, allowing deferred payments and forbearance in some circumstances and adding flexibility to extend credit to farmers in need. Click here to learn more.

  • Worked with PDA to clarify to local governments that farmers markets may remain open.

  • Sought and received clarification from PDA on allowable equine activities at boarding operations. According to updated guidance from PDA on March 27, such facilities are also considered life-sustaining and may remain open for animal care. They are encouraged to follow PDA's on farm guidance for preventing spread of COVID-19. Livestock boarding facilities must make their own decisions as to whether to allow animal owners to visit. PDA cannot offer legal advice on this matter and encourages facility owners to discuss with their own legal counsel. If visitors are allowed, they should come during scheduled appointments and practice social distancing. 
  • Successfully advocated for legislation that expands farmer eligibility for the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program and includes necessary funding for hospitals and rural health clinics. Click here to learn more. 
  • Sought and achieved temporary waiver 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 learners’ permit, CDL or Medical Certificate is expired. Click here to learn more.

  • Sent policy recommendations to Congress and the Trump administration identifying critical issues that need to be addressed to help agricultural producers. Click here to for recommendations sent to Congress. Click here for recommendations sent to the administration. 
  • Sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue outlining our top priorities for assistance to farmers under the CARES Act recently enacted by Congress. Click here to see the letter. 
  • Discussed with top USDA officials concerns about some retailers limiting milk purchases or having empty dairy cases even as some producers are being told to dump milk due to an oversupply. We also advocated for solutions throughout the supply chain to ensure consumers are able to purchase dairy products.
  • Advocated for independent garden centers to be allowed to reopen. Click here to see a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to allow garden centers to reopen. Legislation reopening garden centers cleared the General Assembly but was ultimately vetoed by the governor. However, garden centers may now be open across the state as all counties are now either in the yellow or green phase of the governor's reopening plan.
  • Advocated for state-level dairy actions to help relieve current challenges in the dairy supply chain that are impacting producers. 
  • Advocated with USDA for dairy producers to be paid for milk that they have been told to dump.
  • Advocated for members of Congress to sign onto a letter to President Donald Trump that highlights concerns about payment limitations on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), encourages a payment method that won’t discriminate against producers who marketed their crop or used risk management practices, states that no producer affected by COVID-19 should be excluded from relief, and addresses the funds available for CFAP.

 

What we’re doing:  

  • Asking USDA to expand the CFAP program so that more producers affected by the pandemic can participate. Click here to read PFB's comments to USDA.
  • Advocating for Congress to address priorities for agriculture in its next coronavirus relief legislation. Click here to see a summary of Farm Bureau's priorities that were shared with Congressional leaders.
  • Advocating for the Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would change IRS rules so that farmers would be able to claim a tax deduction for expenses incurred while operating their businesses using funds from the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Advocating for additional fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program that take into account the unique concerns of agriculture.
  • Advocating at both the state and federal levels for measures to expand broadband internet access in rural communities, especially in light of challenges faced due to COVID-19.
  • Seeking from the federal government financial relief and assistance for agricultural producers and agricultural businesses, which including relief from existing FSA loan payments, opportunities for no- or low-cost loans, reopening sign-up periods for key risk management programs, delaying or suspending filing of business returns and payment of business taxes during the pandemic, and availability of unsecured credit to businesses of all sizes.

  • Advocating for, and amplifying Gov. Tom Wolf’s request to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, requesting additional emergency food assistance for Pennsylvania, to help better allow the charitable food system to meet the increased demands of Pennsylvanians who need assistance. 


Help/Resources 

  • USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide $16 billion in direct aid to farmers based on actual losses due to COVID-19, is now open. Producers should apply through their local USDA Farm Service Agency Service Center or through an online portal. While USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, FSA is working with agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools to process applications. Please call your FSA county office to schedule an appointment. Click here for details on the program and how payments will be calculated. A CFAP Call Center is available for producers who would like additional one-on-one support with the CFAP application process. Please call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. Frequently asked questions about this program can be found here. Click here for more information om a USDA webinar series about CFAP.

  • Dairy producers are eligible for indemnity payments through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture if they suffered losses due to having to discard milk themselves and/or if they were assessed a fee by their cooperative to share in the cost of milk dumped by other cooperative members. Each eligible farm will receive a minimum payment of $1,500. Once each eligible farm receives the minimum payment, farm that suffered losses or were assessed fees greater than $1,500 will receive an additional pro-rata share of the remaining funds, not to exceed the actual amount of the loss. Producers can fill out and print an application form online that must be mailed in to PDA and postmarked no later than Sept. 30Instructions, including the mailing address, are provided on the form. Click here to apply.

  • Additional funds have been added for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and applications are again being accepted. If you are interested in applying, contact your lender now as loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis and the new funding is expected to be used up in a matter of days. The program provides loans to eligible businesses, including farms, with 500 or fewer employees to continue to pay employees and cover some overhead costs during the pandemic. Sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed people are also eligible. Loan payments will be deferred for six months and no collateral or personal guarantees are required. Click the following links below for additional information: From SBA, from USDA, and for sole proprietors. Click here for frequently asked questions, including important guidance for farmers who file an IRS Schedule F. For more information via phone, you can also contact the SBA field offices in Harrisburg at 717-782-3840, Philadelphia at 610-382-3062, and Pittsburgh at 412-395-6560

  • Recent action by Congress expanded farmer eligibility for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The program has re-opened for farms and agribusinesses to apply. Make sure to apply right away as available funds are likely to go fast. Low-interest loans and emergency grants are available to help businesses facing losses due to COVID-19 cover their continued operating costsClick here to learn more and click here to apply

  • A new state-administered program, the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund, will provide $10 million in relief grants to farms engaged in direct-to-consumer sales and food retailers that serve underserved, historically disadvantaged and/or low-to-moderate income communities. Grants are also available to start new farm markets or direct-to-consumer operations to serve areas where food access has been affected by COVID-19. The grants must be used for certain, eligible costs related to the pandemic. Applicants must serve low-to-moderate income communities and accept SNAP and WIC to the maximum extent possible. Click here to learn more.

  • State grants are available to help employers in certain in essential industries, including food manufacturing and processing, offer hazard pay to their employees. Click here for details.

  • The non-profit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund is providing forgivable loans for Pennsylvania-based small businesses. The forgivable loan is intended for immediate financial assistance to meet payroll, preserve healthcare coverage for employees and save jobs. These loans are private sector driven, are $3,000 forgivable loans, and are available to PA small businesses of three to 30 employees that have been operating for at least a year, and have an impact in the local community. The application is one page and requires a video explaining the business and what the funding will be used for. Click here to learn more.

  • Penn State University has created an new online network to connect producers, suppliers, processors and workers throughout the food supply chain to minimize bottlenecks. The Pennsylvania Agriculture Resilience Network allows users to post offers to help, make connections throughout the supply chain to help farmers find a market for their products and match farmers with agricultural workers. Click here to learn more.

  • Food processors and retailers can obtain free personal protective equipment for employees through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Equipment comes in boxes of 500. Click here to request protective equipment.

  • The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has working capital loans available to assist affected businesses. Click here for more information.

  • The COVID-19 Relief PA Statewide Small Business Assistance program has grants available to Pennsylvania small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses may apply through one of 18 Community Development Financial Institutions. Click here to learn more.

  • Click here for information from DCED on financial resources for affected businesses. 
  • DCED has created a directory for businesses and organizations in need to personal protective equipment to connect with manufacturers and suppliers. Click here to learn more.
  • USDA Rural Development has created a resources page for customers affected by COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

  • The state Office of Unemployment Compensation has important resources available for affected employers. Click here for more information.
  • Click here for important stress and mental health resources for farmers.
  • American Farm Bureau's farm stress training program is now available to all Farm Bureau members for free. The Rural Resilience training provides value to anyone who is under stress and is designed for individuals who interact with farmers and ranchers to understand the sources of stress, identify effective communication strategies, reduce stigma related to mental health, and learn the warning signs of stress and suicide. Click here to learn more.
  • Penn Vet's New Bolton Center is now offering large animal tele-health services to assist farmers during the pandemic. Click here to learn more. 
  • Click here for a summary of resources for agricultural producers provided by U.S. Rep. Glenn "G.T." Thompson.
  • The Center for Dairy Excellence has resources available to help dairy producers and other farmers navigate the COVID-19 situation. Click here for more information. The center can also help producers develop contingency plans to ensure they can remain in operation if they are directly affected by COVID-19. Click here to learn more.
  • Click here for information on avoiding COVID-19-related scams.
  • Nationwide Insurance is offering a one-time premium refund of $50 for personal auto policies active as of March 31. Click here to learn more.
  • Farm Bureau Bank is available to assist members with Paycheck Protection Program loans. Click here to learn more.

About COVID-19

 

While many healthy adults who are infected by the virus have mild, if any, symptoms and are able to recover, the disease is dangerous and can can fatal, especially to older adults and people with existing health issues, such as hypertension, heart or lung disease and diabetes.


The following recommendations can help you protect yourself, your family and the public:

  • Do not attend meetings of 10 attendees or more.

  • Employ social distancing techniques such as limiting face-to-face interactions with people outside of your household as much as possible and avoiding large crowds.
  • Wear a mask covering your mouth and nose to protect others when in public places.

  • Continue good hygiene efforts, including: 
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available), then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay at home when you or a member of your household is feeling sick.

  • Call your doctor or a medical provider if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing. Do not visit public areas. Most people affected by COVID-19 are able to recover at home. If you have an appointment to see your doctor, call ahead for instructions on how to protect the office and other patients. Do not visit public places. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 and notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19. Put on a facemask before help arrives if possible.
  • Stay informed about the disease. Learn more on the CDC’s website by clicking here.