USDA hosted a webinar September 24, 2020 to introduce the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2). The webinar will covered how to apply and eligibility requirements. Pecans are included in CFAP 2, classified under Sales Commodities. Click the link below to watch the webinar!
Expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Begins Sept. 21
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2020 – President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin September 21 and run through December 11, 2020.
“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” said Secretary Perdue. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”
Click the link to read more.
Applications Now Available for 2021 Young Farmer Grants – Round 1
Due: Thursday, October 8, 2020 by close of business (5:00 PM).
Are you currently creating or expanding an agricultural business in Texas? Consider applying for the 2020 Young Farmer Grant (YFG) program. The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is now accepting applications for this grant.
YFG is administered by TDA under the direction of the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA). 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 46 years of age who are engaged or will be engaged in creating or expanding an agricultural business in Texas.
Due to the COVID-19 procedures, the TDA will only be accepting applications via email. Please DO NOT mail or 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.
Additional details, instructions and the 2021 Round 1 application materials can be found here.
Trade & Business Development
August 14, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase Almond, Hazelnut, Pecan, Pistachio, and Walnut Products for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs. Purchases will be made under the authority of Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935, with the purpose to encourage the continued domestic consumption of these products by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce.
Click the link below to learn more.
Click the link to register, https://globalmeetwebinar.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1344141&tp_key=d4c28040ea
USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that it will now accept applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through an online portal, expanding the options available to producers to apply for this program, which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. FSA is also leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions to enable producers to work with local service center staff to complete their applications from home.
Through the portal, producers with secure USDA login credentials—known as eAuthentication—can certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center. Producers who do not have an eAuthentication account can learn more and begin the enrollment process at farmers.gov/sign-in. Currently, the digital application is only available to sole proprietors or single-member business entities.
Click the link below to learn more.
The U.S. Department of Labor will host four webinars in June and July to discuss how the Department is helping workers and employers by reducing regulatory burdens and making it easier to understand and comply with the law. The webinars will also provide an opportunity for workers, employers, and state and local governments to ask questions and discuss how the Department can expand and improve access to its compliance assistance materials.
WHAT: Compliance Assistance Webinars
Guest Speaker: Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton
Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
Register at Link Compliance Assistance Webinar 1
Manufacturing and Construction
Guest Speaker: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt
Thursday, June 25, 2020, 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
Register at Link Compliance Assistance Webinar 2
Food Service, Hospitality, and Retail
Guest Speaker: Employment and Training Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary Amy Simon
Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
Register at Link Compliance Assistance Webinar 3
Health Care and Emergency Responders
Guest Speaker: Employee Benefits Security Administration Acting Assistant Secretary Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson
Wednesday, July 1, 2020, 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. EDT
Register at Link Compliance Assistance Webinar 4
The webinars will be hosted by the Department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and its Office of Compliance Initiatives. Attendance is free, but attendees must pre-register online. If you have questions, please contact Marisela Douglass at [email protected].
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a proposal from the National Pecan Federation (NPF) requesting the establishment of a research and promotion program to strengthen the position of pecans in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for pecans and develop new uses for pecans.
USDA is currently analyzing the proposal. If USDA finds the request justified, the department will publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule with a public comment period seeking input from the industry and interested stakeholders.
Click the link to learn more.
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crops Program is sending this message to remind our stakeholders and partners to reserve Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 1-3 p.m. ET, for an informative webinar about federal marketing orders, Section 8e inspection and documentation requirements, and electronic filing requirements in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial Environment. Use the links below to register for the webinar and view a notice to trade with more details.
Interested in assisting your members and Ag producers in participating in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program? Join the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) for a webinar designed just for you. Learn CFAP basics and resources available to help you reach the Ag producers you serve.These webinars will be recorded and made available online after each live event.
The first webinar, Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Stakeholder Webinar, will take place on Fri, Jun 5, at 3 p.m. ET and is intended only for stakeholder organizations that serve farmers and ranchers.
Please preregister by clicking on the webinar link above to enter your name, email, and organization information. This allows FSA to ensure adequate lines for all participants on this webinar. Email [email protected] wit
Producers, Farmers and Ranchers:
Webinars for producers, farmers and ranchers will begin on June 9. View dates below and visit FSA Outreach for more information. Ag producers can learn more about the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and how to submit additional commodities for USDA consideration through the NOFA process.
Webinar Dates & Topics:
June 9 at 3:00 p.m. EDT – Outreach CFAP Webinar for Specialty Crops Producers
June 11 at 3:00 p.m. EDT– Outreach CFAP Webinar for Dairy & Non-Specialty Crops Producers
June 16 at 3:00 p.m. EDT – Outreach CFAP Webinar for Non-Specialty Crops & Livestock Producers
June 18 at 3:00 p.m. EDT– Outreach CFAP Webinar on FSA Programs in the Time of Coronavirus
Visit the FSA webinar page for pre-registration links.
Producers are also reminded of the CFAP Call Center 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.
Reminder: June 22 – Last date to submit additional commodities for consideration into CFAP
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crops Program is sending this message to remind our stakeholders and partners to reserve Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 1-3 p.m. ET, for an informative webinar about federal marketing orders, Section 8e inspection and documentation requirements, and electronic filing requirements in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Commercial Environment. Use the link below to view the notice to trade with more details about the webinar, including how to join the webinar. Please share the notice to trade with others who may be interested.
Click the link below to learn more about the webinar.
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2020-–Specialty crops producers can now 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 and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.
Click the link below to read the full release.
Attached is a document with the purpose of sharing recommendations for addressing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry in order to help maintain employee safety, continuity of the food supple, food safety, and employee/consumer confidence.
Click the link below to read the full report and recommendations.
On May 22, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced the Rural Business-Cooperative Service is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
In addition to expanding eligibility to certain agricultural producers, the changes will allow USDA to:
– Provide 90% guarantees on B&I CARES Act Program loans;
– Set the application and guarantee fee at 2% of the loan;
– Accept appraisals completed within 2 years of the loan application date;
– Not require discounting of collateral for working capital loans; and
– Extend the maximum term for working capital loans to 10 years.
B&I CARES Act Program loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for or respond to the effects of the pandemic. The loans may be used only to support rural businesses, including agricultural producers, that were in operation on February 15, 2020. USDA announced the expanded B&I authorities in a notice published in the May 22 Federal Register (p. 31035). USDA is developing application guides for lenders and borrowers on the B&I CARES Act Program.
USDA intends to consider applications in the order they are received. However, the Department may assign priority points to projects if the demand for funds exceeds availability. The Department will begin accepting applications for B&I loan guarantees on May 22. Applications must be received no later than midnight Eastern Daylight Time on June 22, 2020, or until the funds are expended. The program funding expires September 30, 2021.
USDA will host two webinars to provide an overview of program requirements, as follows:
Lenders Webinar Wednesday, May 27, 3:30 pm Eastern Time. To register: globalmeet.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1322642&tp_key=7a700acddd
Stakeholders & Public Webinar Wednesday, June 3, 2:00 pm Eastern Time. To register: globalmeetwebinar.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1324161&tp_key=6067315417
(Washington, D.C., May 19, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.
Click the link below to read the full press release on how to receive direct support for losses related to COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has posted a recording of the webinar for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) held Thursday, May 14, at 1 p.m. ET.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the two agencies will host a webinar on Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1 p.m. ET, for farmers, ranchers and other producers interested in applying for direct support through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This webinar is an opportunity for producers to learn about the application process and required documentation.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. We encourage participants to submit questions through the Q&A box, however, questions will not be answered live during the webinar but will be answered after the event.
USDA is hosting this webinar to provide information on required forms and other documentation in advance of the open application period. Specialty crops producers who are new to the USDA direct payment process are especially encouraged to participate. The details of the direct payment program process will be announced soon. A recording of webinar will also be posted on farmers.gov/CFAP and the AMS website.
As part of President Trump and Secretary Perdue’s April 17th announcement of a $19 billion Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, USDA will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
Click the link below to register.
U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Click the link below to learn more.
(Washington, D.C., May 4, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of $470 million in Section 32 food purchases to occur in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, in addition to purchases previously announced, which will enable USDA to purchase surplus food for distribution to communities nationwide. These Section 32 purchases will provide additional support for producers and Americans in need, in response to changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency.
“President Trump has authorized USDA to support our farmers affected by this national emergency and this action to purchase food and deliver to those in need further demonstrates his unwavering support for the American people during these unprecedented times,” said Secretary Perdue. “America’s farmers and ranchers have experienced a dislocated supply chain caused by the Coronavirus. USDA is in the unique position to purchase these foods and deliver them to the hungry Americans who need it most.”
Click the link below to read more.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. SBA’s EIDL portal will reopen today as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“For more than 30 years, SBA has been prohibited by law from providing disaster assistance to agricultural businesses; however, as a result of the unprecedented legislation enacted by President Trump, American farmers, ranchers and other agricultural businesses will now have access to emergency working capital,” said Administrator Carranza. “These low-interest, long-term loans will help keep agricultural businesses viable while bringing stability to the nation’s vitally important food supply chains.”
Agricultural businesses include businesses engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)). Eligible agricultural businesses must have 500 or fewer employees.
The SBA will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide unprecedented relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.
For more information, please visit: www.sba.gov/Disaster.
USDA has published Frequently Asked Questions regarding the agency’s discretion in enforcing Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements during the coronavirus pandemic
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has updated its recommendations regarding the use of facemasks in the workplace; also available from OSHA is Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
With millions of Americans under stay-at-home orders, total retail sales sunk 8.7% in March, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau; however, sales at food & beverage stores were up 28%
The Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association has cancelled its annual conference in June due to the pandemic
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, intends to provide timely additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act). This document will be updated on a regular basis.
Click the link below to view the document.
Click the picture to read the article.
With $2.7 billion targeted to the fruit and vegetable industry, the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program was unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on April 17.
Of the $2.7 billion, $2.1 billion will be direct payments. The remaining $600 million will be for produce purchases over the next six months. Industry leaders, who had estimated industry losses at more than $5 billion and growing on March 23, said the aid was appreciated but not enough.
Click here to read more.
Click on the link below to find your state’s Governor’s website.
Governor Greg Abbott today announced that Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas that have been affected by COVID-19 as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. These loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees and will be partially or wholly forgiven.
“Small businesses and their employees are at the heart of the Texas economy, and they need support during these difficult times,” said Governor Abbott. “These loans will help us revitalize our economy and restore Texans’ livelihoods as we respond to COVID-19. I thank Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund for providing this lifeline to Texas small businesses and their employees by providing them with the support they need to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19. This partnership is an important first step in our journey to economic recovery in the state of Texas.”
“We have seen first-hand the determination and resilience of small business owners in Texas, having worked alongside them for years through our 10,000 Small Businesses program,” said John Waldron, President and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs. “Goldman Sachs understands that our communities and economy rely on small business and we are doing everything we can to support this vital engine of economic growth and employment.”
Goldman Sachs will provide the capital as part of its $550 million commitment to COVID-19 relief, and LiftFund, alongside other CDFIs, will administer the funding to qualified small businesses. If all stipulations are met, small business can have their loans forgiven in full by the SBA. Business owners can apply for a PPP loan and find more information about the program on the LiftFund website.
The Governor was joined for the announcement by President and COO of Goldman Sachs John Waldron, President and CEO of LiftFund Janie Barrera. Also joining the Governor were Brent Reaves, owner of Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas, Patricia and Clint Butler, owners of Coffeecionado Community Roasters in San Antonio, and Michele and Mitch Allen, owners of iRun Texas in San Antonio. The Butlers and Allens will be the first to benefit from this partnership to provide PPP loans in Texas.
LiftFund is a non-profit organization, headquartered in San Antonio, that helps small business owners with limited access to capital. The company offers small business loans and minority business loans for entrepreneurs. LiftFund partners with SBA lenders and other lending institutions to provide startup loans, SBA 504 Loans, and microloans in Texas, and throughout the South Eastern U.S. In 2018, LiftFund had 591 donors, 118 investors, 500 partners, and 100 employees.
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.
Dear GO TEXAN Members,
The Texas Agricultural Finance Authority (TAFA) was created in 1987 (through HB 49) as a public authority within the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). 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 (ALG) 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. ALG is designed to incentivize and encourage lenders to extend credit to farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness owners who wish to establish, improve or enhance an agricultural operation in Texas. The program is used to add protection against reasonable risk associated with an agricultural loan.
The ALG program may be an option for agricultural businesses that are ineligible for the Small Business Administration’s Relief Programs. For those seeking financing, the first step is to visit with a lender as TDA does not issue any loans directly to a borrower. The lender will submit the application to TDA on behalf of the borrower. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]culture.gov.
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.