Many small-business owners are completing their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications and are running into common questions and roadblocks.
This article answers many questions small businesses may have regarding the Paycheck Protection Program.
Click the link to read the article and how to help your small business.
FDA has updated its COVID-19 website for the food processing industry.
Click the link for the website.
USA Today published an article on the impact of coronavirus on the food industry.
Click the link to read the article.
The Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA) was created in 1987 (through HB 49) as a public authority within the Texas Department of Agriculture. The program is designed to provide financial assistance for the expansion, development and diversification of production, processing, marketing and exporting of Texas agricultural products.
Through the Agricultural Loan Guarantee program, TAFA provides loan guarantees to lenders for eligible applicants who wish to establish or enhance their farm and/or ranch operation or agriculture-related business. This may be an option for ag loans if the Small Business Administration programs are not working. Producers seeing increased online orders/demand may have opportunity to grow their business if they had additional funds.
Borrower should visit with a lender to see if they are willing to participate in the program. A lender will need to submit the application to the Department on the Borrower’s behalf. TDA does not issue any loans directly to a borrower. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is committed to delivering the timely services needed to support the movement of America’s food supply and will continue to take steps to meet challenges due to the COVID-19 national emergency.
To aid the movement of fresh specialty crops into marketing channels, AMS is extending the expiration date of USDA audit certifications scheduled to expire on or before May 31, 2020, by 60 days. USDA audit certifications are normally valid for 12 months. The certification extension applies to 400 current auditees certified under the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Domestic Origin Verification and Plant Systems Audit programs.
AMS is advising affected auditees of their 60-day extension and is updating information under “Find a USDA Gap-Certified Company” on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP) webpage to reflect the extended audit expiration dates.
Extending the expiration date for auditees with current certifications will allow AMS to concentrate resources on providing food safety verification audits for entities new to USDA audit programs who require certification to move product into commerce.
The extension is in alignment with the International Accreditation Forum’s Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting Accreditation Bodies and Certifying Organizations, Issue 1, which establishes guidelines for extending food safety audit certifications. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) also has communicated that, based on risk, certification bodies may be able to extend certifications under extraordinary circumstances for up to six months.
AMS recognizes that USDA specialty crops inspections and audits are critical to the nation’s food supply chain, and we are committed to ensuring the continuity of our audit operations.
Click the link above to read the article “House Passes COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package”
This is a friendly reminder, the application due date for the 2020 Young Farmer Grant – Round 2 is Thursday, April 9, 2020 by close of business (5:00 PM).
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) will only be accepting applications via email (preferred) or mail. Please DO NOT deliver applications in person to the TDA Headquarters in Austin.
Although TDA is currently on a skeleton crew/telework policy, we are still working normal office hours and available to assist you. Please contact us via email at [email protected] or by telephone (512) 463-6695 or (512) 463-6616.
Young Farmer Grants are administered by TDA under the direction of the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority. The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance in the form of dollar-for-dollar matching grant funds to individuals between the age of 18 and under 46 years of age who are engaged or will be engaged in creating or expanding an agricultural business in Texas.
Additional details, instructions and the 2020 Round 2 application materials can be found here.
Trade & Business Development
The SBA’s West Texas Office is hosting webinars tomorrow, March 26th and Friday, March 27th for anyone who wants to learn more about the application process for SBA Disaster Loans. The information in each session is identical.
There have been many changes made to the Disaster Loan program over the last week, but all for the better in order to streamline the process.
The SBDC has a checksheet for SBA Disaster Loans that is available in both English and Spanish. Although you’ll complete most of these forms online in the application, we hope having a checksheet and being able to view the forms helps prepare you for application.
The SBDC Consultants are ready to assist you if needed. You can:
1) email [email protected]
2) call 806-651-5151
FAQ’s: Related to COVID-19 impact on the Fruit and Vegetable industry
WASHINGTON – March 20, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) statistical reports remain on schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the March 26 Hogs and Pigs and March 31 Prospective Plantings reports. NASS also continues to collect data for all upcoming reports, asking farmers and ranchers to complete their surveys online, if they don’t already respond that way. To protect the health and safety of producers, partners, and employees, NASS has suspended in-person data collection at least until April 3, 2020.
“We are making every effort to produce the U.S. crop, livestock, and economic statistics that the nation counts on,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “But to do that responsibly, we are following guidance to slow the spread of coronavirus and to protect the health and safety of producers and employees. It is now more important than ever for everyone who receives a survey to complete it promptly online and encourage others to do the same.”
Ensuring that responses are returned on time means little or no additional outreach is needed. In addition, online response is faster and more convenient for producers. Returning the completed questionnaire by phone or U.S. mail is acceptable, but mail responses require in-office personnel to open, scan, and check in each form.
“If we are able to collect enough data over the coming weeks, and conditions are such that estimates can be established and released, we will continue to publish these important reports on schedule. The data in the reports are indicators of the nation’s feed and food supply,” said Hamer.
To respond online at agcounts.usda.gov, producers will need their unique 17-digit survey code from the questionnaire or letter received in the mail. Both the online questionnaire and phone data collection interviews are secure. All information submitted to NASS is confidential, only used for statistical purposes, and published in aggregate form, as required by federal law so that no individual or farm information can be identified. For more information on how NASS protects information, visit www.nass.usda.gov/confidentiality. For assistance with the online or paper questionnaire, or to submit information by phone, call toll-free 866-294-8560.
NASS continues to evaluate all program operations as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Any changes to the NASS report schedule will be announced to the public on nass.usda.gov and on Twitter @usda_nass.
A new document regarding standard Positive Test Protocol for the food industry approved by the FDA, has been added In the toolkit below. Also in the toolkit, you will find a collection of COVID-19 resources to aid your organization during these unprecedented times. We have recently added relevant webinars, Industry Fact Sheets, FAQ Templates, Social Media Graphics, and other tools we hope you can utilize as part of your COVID-19 communication efforts.
Download and edit this letter so that your company can provide to employees citing the FEDERAL government’s definition of Essential Employees.
If you decide to use this letter, please place it on your company letterhead and complete the sections in RED at the bottom. Each employee will need a copy and must carry it with them at all times when traveling for work in those regions which have Shelter In Place or similar restrictive travel limits.
With the goal of consolidating information into one document, we have put together a COVID-19 Resource Guide.
We will be updating it periodically as new programs and initiatives are announced.
Due to COVID-19 and the recommended guidelines we will be postponing the Central Texas Pecan Program which was set for Thursday, April 2nd at the Mills County Civic Center. We will be looking into rescheduling the program at a later date but that has not been set at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience but feel it is important to do our part in helping slow the spread of COVID-19.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, changes have been made to the H-2A program. Returning H-2A workers applications will be processed, but at this new workers applications will not be processed. Solutions are still being worked out regarding the issue and we are hopeful changes will continue to occur.
If you have any questions regarding the changes, USDA has set up an email account to handle questions and cases, [email protected] Information will continue to be made available on the website USDA has created to update growers on H-2A happenings, www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a.
United States Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) includes Food and Agriculture in recommended Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce recommendations. This information could be of great value to the industry during COVID-19.
“As the Nation comes together to slow the spread of COVID-19, on March 16th, the President issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. This guidance states that:
‘If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.’
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s responsibilities as assigned under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure. CISA uses trusted partnerships with both the public and private sectors to deliver infrastructure resilience assistance and guidance to a broad range of partners.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a website for the latest news regarding COVID-19 in agriculture. USDA states, “We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.”
Learn more here, https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hosted a stakeholder call on Wednesday, March 18th, to discuss food safety and food supply questions regarding COVID-19.
Click to learn more, an audio file is also available in the link. https://www.fda.gov/food/workshops-meetings-webinars-food-and-dietary-supplements/fda-briefing-foods-stakeholders-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-03182020-03182020
“American Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19” Among those challenges are H-2A, supply chain, and market concerns.
Click the link to read more, https://www.fb.org/newsroom/farm-bureau-highlights-immediate-challenges-facing-the-agriculture-sec3
“The National Grocers Association is actively monitoring the growing spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) both internationally and domestically, and the impacts it will have to the independent grocery industry. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information to help with preparedness planning, and we write to you to make sure that our members are taking the necessary precautions to protect your employees, your customers and the communities you serve.”
Click the link to learn more updates for independent grocery and retail stores, https://www.nationalgrocers.org/news/national-grocers-association-coronavirus/
Sustainable Food Center created a spreadsheet with resources to help growers such as loans, marketing opportunities, planning resources and more.
Click the link for Spreadsheet to learn more, —> Spreadsheet
The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
COVID-19 or Other Public Health Emergencies and the Fair Labor Standards Act: Questions and Answers
COVID-19 or Other Public Health Emergencies and the Family and Medical Leave Act: Questions and Answers
WHD Response to COVID-19
For further information about Coronavirus, please visit the HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A recent INC-funded study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, showed that a high intake of nuts may help protect the elderly from cognitive decline.
A team of researchers examined whether a diet high in nuts might help protect against age-related cognitive decline over a three-year period.
A total of 119 participants aged 65 and over with dementia were selected from the InCHIANTI cohort, a representative population-based study of elderly residents of Chianti, Italy. Participants were selected based on their nut intake: non-nut consumers and regular nut consumers (≥2.9 g/day).
Nut exposure was measured at the beginning of the study with a validated food frequency questionnaire or with an analytical tool for the characterization of phenolic compounds. In addition, cognitive decline was measured using the Mini-Mental State Examination test.
Researchers found that, from 119 subjects, 38 participants experienced cognitive decline, 28 from the non-nut consumers group and 10 from the nut consumers group. Nut consumption estimated either by the dietary marker or by the urinary marker model was in both cases associated with lower cognitive decline.
“The use of a panel of metabolites provides accurate and complementary information on nut exposure and reinforces the results obtained using dietary information”, states Prof. Andrés-Lacueva, ICREA Academia at the University of Barcelona, Group leader of CIBERFES on Frailty and Healthy Aging and principal investigator of the study.
The study was supported by the INC.
July 29, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Texas Pecan Producers Receive Much-Needed Relief from the USDA’s Newest Round of Trade Mitigation
The Texas and U.S. pecan industry have been hurt greatly by Chinese retaliatory tariffs and trade barriers on pecans. Businesses and families have faced detrimental losses that have affected pecan growers, processors, and their communities in over 15 pecan producing states.
The Texas Pecan Growers Association commends the efforts of the Trump Administration and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, for supporting agriculture with a 16 billion dollar relief package. The pecan industry is especially pleased with the recent announcement that pecan growers will have access to the Market Facilitation Program for direct payments. These assistance programs help ensure pecan growers can continue to provide for the world.
“The Texas pecan industry has faced tough circumstances since the Chinese retaliatory tariffs have been put in place,” Lalo Medina, President of the Texas Pecan Growers Association, explains. “The relief package, particularly the release of funds through the Market Facilitation Program, will give pecan producers some much-needed assistance. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we know this is a great first step toward providing relief to pecan growers.”
For more information
TPGA Executive Director, Blair Krebs, is available for comment. Please contact the TPGA office:
tel.: 979-846-3285 | fax: 979-846-1752
About the Texas Pecan Growers Association: Formed in 1921, TPGA is a nonprofit, educational association that assists Texas pecan growers in growing pecans profitably through education, research, and promotion. TPGA members are primarily from Texas but also from across the U.S. and Mexico.