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USDA Coronavirus Page

CDC Instructions In English & Spanish

Truckers Hours Waiver Page

Employer Guidelines - Department of Labor wage and hour Covid19 Instructions

Covid 19 Webinar For Dairies - Cornell University

Idaho Governor's Isolation Order

FDA Coronavirus Page

State of Idaho Coronavirus Page

 

♦  March 26, 2020 - A State Department document said the expedited H-2A approval process would be good only for this calendar year.  

Embassies and consulates in Mexico, where regular visa processing services were recently suspended, issued 88.2% of all H-2A visas and 74.1% of all H-2B visas in fiscal 2019. The action will "ease the flow of guest workers at a time when our farmers are redoubling their efforts to provide our nation with safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food,” said Dave Puglia, president and CEO of the Western Growers Association. Michael Marsh, president and CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers, said the Trump administration’s action “ provides some certainty to US farmers and ranchers that they will be able to source the workforce necessary to secure America's food supply. This leadership also provides some certainty to US farmers and ranchers that they will be able to source the workforce necessary to secure America's food supply.”

The State Department had said earlier that some returning H-2A workers would qualify for an interview waiver, but farm groups were still concerned that the number of H-2A approvals would be lower this year. Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, also praised the new policy. “We are grateful for the administration’s recognition of our part in keeping food moving from farm to table. We will continue to monitor the implementation and application of these revised regulations and ensure that the fresh fruit and vegetable industry has access to the workers that keep our food economy going during these uncertain times," he said. ” 

 

♦  March 26, 2020 - Agriculture Considered Critical Infrastructure - Idaho Farm Bureau  

Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) designates the food and agriculture sector as a critical infrastructure sector whose assets, systems, and networks are considered so vital that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health, or safety.

The President’s Coronavirus Guidance published on March 16, 2020 (link) instructs employees of Critical Infrastructure Industries, such as the food and agriculture sector, to maintain normal work patterns during the global coronavirus outbreak.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) published guidance on March 19, 2020 (link) identifying food and agriculture employees as critical infrastructure workers essential to the continued viability of this sector who should maintain normal work patterns pursuant to the President’s Coronavirus Guidance.

Accordingly, it is appropriate in light of the President’s Coronavirus Guidance to allow this critical infrastructure sector employee to proceed in the federal interests of protecting the nation’s food supply chain, notwithstanding local restrictions such as curfews, shelter-in-place orders, and other similar restrictions on travel. ” 

 

♦  March 25, 2020 - AFBF Press Release - Coronavirus Aid Package Critical for Farmers 

The coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall: “Thanks to Leader McConnell and all the senators who diligently fought for farmers and ranchers to ensure they have our backs in the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The aid to farmers in this package, including funding for the CCC and the Office of the Secretary, will allow USDA to begin crafting an appropriate relief program for agriculture. “America’s farmers and ranchers face enormous volatility as markets and supply chains rapidly react to changes, but I’ll say again that farmers and ranchers will not let Americans down. All members of Congress must understand that farmers have almost no control over the prices of the goods we produce, so fulfilling our commitment to America requires a team effort. “We urge swift passage and will continue working with Congress and the Administration to ensure there are sufficient resources to assist farmers, ranchers, rural communities and those in need in these very trying times.”

Background: COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand, and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales. The agreement reportedly includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation, consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to responsibly support agriculture in times of crisis, and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators. Forty-eight agriculture groups joined Farm Bureau in calling on Congress to expand USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation. Read the letter here.” 

 

♦  March 25, 2020 - Gov. Little issues statewide stay-at home order, signs 'extreme emergency declaration' 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has issued a stay-at-home order for all of Idaho, requiring everyone in the state to self-isolate at home if possible. The order applies to all citizens, not just those who are sick. It's effective immediately and will be in effect for 21 days. Healthcare workers, public safety workers, and other "essential" workers may still go to work, and people will be allowed to leave their homes to obtain or provide essential services. Little also ordered the closure of all dine-in restaurants in the state, although drive-through and delivery will still be allowed. "Non-essential" businesses like gyms, bars, salons and convention centers must closed. The announcement came after health officials confirmed community spread of coronavirus in at least two counties.” 

 

♦  March 24, 2020 - Department of Transportation makes changes to driver license expiration and CDL medical examination requirements 

The President has declared a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This Notice is in response to COVID-19 outbreaks and their effects on people and the immediate risk they present to public health, safety, and welfare in the fifty States and the District of Columbia. Many States are experiencing greater than normal employee absences or have closed offices of their State Driver Licensing Agencies in response to the guidance from the U.S. Center for Disease Control to use social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Because of these actions, many commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are unable to renew their driver’s license and are unable to provide medical certificates to their State Driver Licensing Agencies. In addition, many medical providers nationwide have canceled regularly scheduled appointments to dedicate resources to the COVID-19 response or for related reasons, and drivers are unable to obtain appointments for physical examinations with medical examiners to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

Given the national emergency, there is a public need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment, and persons, which requires an adequate and sustained supply of CMV drivers including Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders, and non-CDL commercial drivers. Ensuring that drivers are available to operate CMVs during the national emergency declaration is critical to continued operation of the transportation and energy supply networks and the safety and economic stability of our Nation. This Notice of Enforcement Policy, effective from March 24, 2020 to June 30, 2020, provides needed relief from specified FMCSRs for CLP holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers and motor carriers using those drivers. This Notice of Enforcement Policy applies to all CLP holders, CDL holders, and non-CDL drivers whose license was issued for less than the maximum period established by 49 CFR 383.25 and 383.73 and was valid on February 29, 2020 and expired on or after March 1, 2020. FMCSA will exercise its enforcement discretion to not take enforcement action for the following:

1. 49 CFR 383.23(a)(2) – a CLP or CDL holder operating a CMV with an expired license, but only if the CLP or CDL was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020.

2. 49 CFR 383.37(a) – a motor carrier that allows a CLP or CDL driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver does not have a current CLP or CDL, but only if the CLP or CDL was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020. 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590

3. 49 CFR 391.11(b)(5) – a CMV driver (i.e., CLP, CDL, or non-CDL license holder) or motor carrier that allows a CMV driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver’s operator license has expired, but only if the driver’s license was valid on February 29, 2020, and expired on or after March 1, 2020, and the driver is otherwise qualified to drive under 391.11.

4. 49 CFR 391.45(b) – a CMV driver or motor carrier that allows a CMV driver to operate a CMV during a period in which the driver does not have the current medical certificate as required by 49 CFR 391.45(b), but only if the driver has evidence of a medical certification that was valid on February 29, 2020 and expired on or after March 1, 2020.

All CLP and CDL drivers are required to comply with all other applicable obligations under the FMCSRs and other applicable laws. This Notice creates no individual rights of action and establishes no precedent for future determinations. This Notice is effective from March 24, 2020, through June 30, 2020.” 

 

♦  March 24, 2020 - Farm Credit Releases Message 

We write today to provide an update on Farm Credit’s efforts to serve farmers, ranchers and rural communities during the current Covid-19 situation. Farm Credit institutions remain open and continue making loans and serving our customer-owners. Farm Credit institutions also remain financially strong and have the resources necessary to ensure credit continues to flow during this crisis. Like other businesses, Farm Credit is strongly committed to the health and safety of our customers, employees and directors. We are taking necessary precautions to limit personal contact whenever possible, including Farm Credit institution employees working remotely whenever possible and postponing public meetings and travel. Farm Credit institutions have triggered their business continuity plans and are reporting their actions under those plans to our regulator, the Farm Credit Administration.

Technology helps us serve customers without direct personal contact whenever possible as we close some branches to the public and sharply limit access to other branches. At the same time, we are actively communicating with our customers and offering a wide range of options to continue making loans and providing essential services without creating unnecessary person-to-person contact. Importantly, the Department of Homeland Security issued guidance designating agriculture and financial services as critical sectors where certain employees should continue to work. We are relying on the DHS guidance to ensure that Farm Credit’s critical functions continue, and farmers and rural communities are served even when state and local governments restrict opening hours and/or travel.

As you know, spring is an especially intense time in Farm Credit as farmers finalize planting plans and secure operating credit. Our agricultural cooperative customers are busy stocking inventory to support farm operations and need readily available credit to ensure farmers have access to the supplies they need. Our agricultural product processing customers are dealing with coronavirus while keeping their doors open and the food supply chain operating. Our rural telecommunications customers are working to meet increased demand for broadband as more families work remotely and have children attending classes online. Farm Credit continues to fulfill its mission to support rural communities and agriculture.

We are doing everything we can to minimize the disruption to our customers and provide them the credit they need to produce the food and fiber that families across the country and around the world need. We would be pleased to provide additional information about local Farm Credit efforts to serve customers in your area. For more information, please contact me or Brittany Jablonsky (jablonsky@fccouncil.com). Thank you for all you and your colleagues in Congress are doing to support rural communities and agriculture as we deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Sincerely, Todd Todd Van Hoose” 

 

♦  March 23, 2020 - ISDA Committed to Idaho’s Critical Infrastructure During COVID-19 Emergency 

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is committed to ensuring that vital services for Idaho agriculture and food production are uninterrupted during the state’s COVID-19 emergency. Even with daily developments, one thing remains clear: Idaho’s food system is critical infrastructure. In collaboration with Governor Brad Little, the ISDA will continue to serve the state’s agriculture and food sectors. “The ISDA always strives to ensure confidence in food products and the marketplace,” said Celia Gould, ISDA Director.

“In response to COVID-19 transmission prevention, we have implemented measures that help account for the health of staff while still serving customers.” Health and safety are always priorities in Idaho’s food system. Most people working in agriculture do not have the ability to telecommute, and the State of Idaho recognizes that food production and processing are essential to all Idahoans. The ISDA urges agribusinesses to implement effective health measures, including guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Under normal circumstances, the ISDA would be celebrating National Ag Day on March 24,” said Gould.

“Perhaps the most poignant way to celebrate this year is with heartfelt recognition and thanks. Because farmers, ranchers, farm laborers, inspectors, processors, truckers, grocery store workers and more are on the job, Idahoans can be confident that our food system will remain viable. These producers and workers have our appreciation now and every day.” Additional information about the ISDA’s response to COVID-19 is available on the agency’s website, agri.idaho.gov. The State of Idaho’s COVID-19 website, https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/, has regular updates and additional guidance. Agribusinesses and the public can reach the ISDA by emailing info@isda.idaho.gov or by calling (208) 332-8500.” 

 

♦  March 23, 2020 - Idaho small businesses impacted by coronavirus can now access federal disaster loans 

Idaho small businesses impacted by coronavirus can now access federal disaster loans Boise, Idaho – Following Governor Brad Little’s request, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Friday it is now offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Idaho small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). “Small business is the backbone of our economy, and that’s why I requested additional resources for Idaho’s small businesses during this time of hardship and uncertainty,” Governor Brad Little said.

Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of coronavirus since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met if the disaster had not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of coronavirus. The interest rate is 3.75-percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75-percent. The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments up to a maximum of 30 years. The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21, 2020. For more information, visit https://commerce.idaho.gov/covid-19/.” 

 

♦  March 21, 2020 - American Farm Bureau has provided leaders in the House and Senate a list of Covid-19 recommendations to help farmers and ranchers 

American Farm Bureau has provided leaders in the House and Senate a list of recommendations for assisting farmers and ranchers during the national emergency to address the coronavirus outbreak. Over the past week, AFBF has worked closely with state Farm Bureaus in identifying immediate challenges facing farmers and ranchers due to the coronavirus outbreak. Based on input from state Farm Bureaus, AFBF has compiled a list of issues and recommended Federal responses and has shared these with leaders in the House and Senate. A copy of AFBF’s letters and the recommendations are attached. Policy Recommendations to Assist Agricultural Producers

1. Agricultural labor a. Access While containment of COVID-19 is a national emergency, providing food to over 300 million Americans is no less critical. The H-2A program provides over a quarter-million workers to sustain the U.S. agricultural sector. H-2A workers must be available to the agricultural sector, either by designating this visa category as emergency or critical or through some other mechanism. Additionally, border states such as Arizona are critically dependent on commuter workers who reside in Mexico but work in the U.S. We must assure that these workers remain available. b. Cash flow Many farms are facing do-or-die situations. Every effort should be made to provide cost flexibility to farming operations during this emergency. Some of this can be accomplished through tax relief but temporary suspension of regulatory requirements can also be helpful. At a minimum, the DOL should suspend expensive H-2A requirements (the adverse effect wage rate, the ¾ guarantee, and potentially others) that impose costs on farmers that they cannot sustain during this emergency. c. Continuity and flexibility The Federal government should automatically extend the length of H-2A visas; allow H-2A users to share workers among farms; provide interim temporary legal status to current farm workers (such as dairy workers) and their families; halt all deportations of agricultural workers; and provide dairy workers special means of assuring that they have work permits. Additionally, the program should consider temporarily relaxing other requirements (such as housing) that may temporarily be affected by requirements of public health policies (such as social distancing).

2. Authority for USDA to function as a Federal backstop Many farmers will be extremely challenged to meet cash needs. The Federal government can and must play a critical role in this effort. a. Commodity Credit Corporation i. Scope of authority Congress must assure that the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has ample authority to devise and implement any program that is designed to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers during this emergency. ii. Funding authority Congress must assure that the CCC has ample budget authority to meet the financial needs of growers. b. FSA Similar to efforts undertaken previously when agricultural producers faced unique challenges, FSA should have the authority to provide no- or low-interest loans to producers, particularly livestock producers, during this emergency. The deadline to enroll in Agricultural Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage and Dairy Margin Coverage recently closed. Given the rapid decline in market prices sign-up should be reopened for producers enrolled or seeking to enroll in these programs. In addition, USDA should explore the ability to make advanced payments on ARC or PLC before the expiration of the crop year. c. AMS The decline in restaurant and school demand for food and dairy products may well result in lower demand and as a consequence processing capacity at some food production facilities. In special circumstances the Federal government should be actively engaged and work with companies to assure that farmers continue to have markets for their products, including but not limited to Section 32 food purchase and distribution programs. d. We support provisions in the Senate legislation that allows the Federal government to actively engage and work with companies to assure that farmers continue to have markets for their products. e. Emergency Relief. To assist the agriculture sector in the 1980’s, USDA was authorized under emergency economic provisions to provide lending assistance to producers. This authority should be renewed so that USDA has the broadest possible latitude in providing a safety net to the agriculture sector.

3. International/border issues a. The United States should work aggressively with our trading partners to assure that critical trade relations remain intact to the greatest extent possible. Specifically: i. Livestock trade with Canada and Mexico must be maintained. ii. Chemicals and other farm inputs from foreign nations should continue to flow so that farmers do not lose these critical components of agriculture production. This is affecting availability of fertilizer and other commodities.

4. Critical Resources a. In order to assure continued agricultural production with a minimum of disruption, agricultural retail suppliers should be regarded as essential components of the food system so that farmers can retain access to seed, fertilizer, chemical inputs and other essential components of farm production. In addition, all aspects of agricultural production (including nursery, sod and greenhouse operations and timber) should be designated as essential parts of agriculture. b. The understandable commitment to prioritize PPE equipment for health care workers could result in shortages for the food processing industry. We support efforts to maximize production of PPE equipment to make sure it remains available to critical processing jobs in the food sector.

5. Rural Broadband The national effort to contain the virus by social distancing has underscored the critical need of rural broadband infrastructure. Funding for broadband construction in rural communities must be given a high priority.

6. Financial Assistance a. Credit Immediately provide readily accessible, unsecured credit to businesses of all sizes to ensure they have the cash to pay their workers, rent, and other costs during this crisis. b. Cash flow Suspend the filing of business returns and the payment of all business taxes to the federal government for the duration of the pandemic c. Tax certainty and relief Amend the Tax Code to, among other items, restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments; suspend the application of the Section 163(j) limitation on interest expense deductions for tax year 2020 to avoid penalizing businesses for borrowing during this crisis; and suspend the Section 461(l) loss limitation on pass-through businesses to allow the owners of pass-through businesses to fully deduct any losses they incur this year. d. Any financial aid afforded the fuel and energy sector should include assistance to companies that produce renewable fuel and renewable power.

7. Rural Communities a. Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Remove the annual 5 percent reduction in future SRS payments. Allow SRS funding to be used for broadband connectivity. With the increasing number of school closures, it is critical that these counties have the flexibility to expand connectivity within their communities. b. Mandatory Funding for Payments In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Provide mandatory PILT funding for the estimated 61 percent of counties that have nontaxable federal public lands to pay for health crisis management and emergency response. c. Relax routine requirements With the health care system under stress, some individuals may have difficulty scheduling routine medical exams to maintain waivers for CDLs. This requirement should be suspended temporarily during this emergency.

8. Health Care a. Expand the use of telehealth, specifically: i. Allow Medicare patients to use telehealth even with a doctor that a patient does not have a preexisting relationship. ii. Allow rural health clinics to treat patients with telehealth. b. Provide additional funding for community health centers, which are critical for rural health care service.” 

 

♦  March 20, 2020 - Farm groups press for aid as Congress mulls boost in USDA spending 

Farm groups are lobbying Congress and the Trump administration for a number of relief measures to help producers cope with the slide in many commodity markets that has deepened as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Congress is being asked to increase USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. spending limit to $50 billion, up from $30 billion, to enable more direct payments to growers, including a another round of Market Facilitation Program payments. 

 

♦  March 19, 2020 - Letter From Idaho Department of Agriculture 

The ISDA is in constant contact with the Governor’s Office regarding our response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Governor has provided guidance for all of Idaho. One thing is clear: the food system is critical infrastructure. The ISDA will do everything we can to ensure we’re doing our part to keep the food system moving. We are fielding calls from businesses, such as livestock sale yards, asking whether ISDA is mandating closure of any agribusiness. The Governor has not mandated closure of operations. However, we strongly encourage enhanced health and cleaning measures.

In response to COVID-19, the ISDA has postponed and canceled some meetings including pesticide exams statewide (list here). Temporarily, there also will be adjustments for some ISDA services. Traffic into all ISDA buildings is limited to by-appointment only at this time. We still will be processing phytosanitary certificates for pick up and other essential services. Many of the services that generate walk-in customers can be completed online. Please see our website payment portal for more information: https://www.isda.idaho.gov/ISDAWebPortal/. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Communication is key right now. Please email info@isda.idaho.gov or call at (208) 332-8500. To everyone in Idaho agriculture, thank you for feeding the world. Your work is essential every day but has been especially highlighted in recent weeks.” 

 

♦  March 18, 2020 - Risch Applauds Decision to Make H-2A Visa Program Essential 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement regarding the State Department’s decision that the H-2A visa program be considered essential despite temporary closures of embassies and consulates abroad due to the spread of COVID-19:“These are extraordinary times, and in times such as these it is even more critical that the people who put food on every American’s table have the full support of our government. I was very concerned to learn that the H-2A visa program was gravely impacted by the temporary closure of our embassies and consulates around the world, particularly in Mexico, due to the growing coronavirus pandemic. I am glad that in just a matter of hours, the State Department announced that the H-2A visa program is essential to our domestic food supply during this critical time. I will continue to work with Secretary Pompeo and his staff as they work to process H-2A visas expeditiously. Thank you to our farmers and ranchers in Idaho — God bless you for what you do, I will continue to do all I can to support your critical work.”

 

♦  March 18, 2020 - Farm Bureau Highlights Immediate Challenges Facing the Agriculture Sector 

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. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, AFBF President Zippy Duvall pledged that “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America.” USDA invited Farm Bureau to convey agricultural issues or concerns arising as the pandemic mitigation efforts and impact advance.

Duvall said labor, supply chain issues and possible price manipulation topped the list of immediate issues farmers are raising with the national organization. The letter, which will be updated as new issues materialize, outlines concerns from Farm Bureau members across the country as national and local leaders take action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. H-2A With the State Department’s announcement to suspend all processing of new, non-emergency visa applications in Mexico, U.S. farms and ranches could face a serious labor shortage at a critical time for planting and harvesting crops essential to the domestic food supply. U.S agriculture depends on more than a quarter-million H-2A workers every year, and Farm Bureau is calling on the Administration to find a safe measure to ensure these skilled workers can come to our farms and ranches. AFBF along with members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition also sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo to address these concerns.

Supply Chain “As companies adopt social distancing policies in keeping with health directives, this mode of work could have a significant impact on the processing plants that drive America’s supply chain,” Duvall wrote. Meat packing plants, dairy processors, ethanol plants and other processing facilities all play vital roles in delivering the food and fuel Americans will continue to depend on in the long days ahead. Additional impacts could include access to seed, fertilizer and crop protection tools farmers need to grow a healthy crop. In addition to calling for close monitoring of potential shutdowns or reduced hours at these facilities, Farm Bureau is also requesting that the current FMCSA Emergency Declaration waiver to hours of service for food transportation be expanded to address the full agricultural supply chain. Market Concerns Maintaining stable and fair markets is especially critical at times like these.

Duvall noted concerns from livestock producers regarding market manipulation and urged USDA to monitor the situation to protect ranchers and consumers alike from price manipulation. In the fresh produce market, growers have expressed concerns regarding possible dumping of products from other countries. “USDA should work with the appropriate Federal agencies in ensuring U.S. farmers are not unfairly disadvantaged during this unique period,” Duvall wrote. Duvall also noted USDA’s unique role in urging rural America to take all the prescribed measures to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of COVID-19, and thanked Secretary Perdue for his leadership in addressing the crisis facing agriculture and rural America. “We applaud your leadership and commitment and stand ready to work with you as our nation meets this unique challenge.” 

 

♦  March 17, 2020 - USDA Announces Feeding Program Partnership in Response to COVID-19 

(Washington, D.C.,) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals a week to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19: “Feeding children who are affected by school closures is a top priority for President Trump and this Administration. USDA is working with private sector partners to deliver boxes of food to children in rural America who are affected by school closures,” said Secretary Perdue. “Right now, USDA and local providers are utilizing a range of innovative feeding programs to ensure children are practicing social distancing but are still receiving healthy and nutritious food. This whole of America approach to tackling the coronavirus leverages private sector ingenuity with the exact same federal financing as the Summer Food Service Program.

USDA has already taken swift action to ensure children are fed in the event of school closures, and we continue to waive restrictions and expand flexibilities across our programs.” “We are grateful to come alongside USDA, PepsiCo, and McLane Global to ensure that children impacted by school closures get access to nutritious food regardless of where they live. We know from first-hand experience that families with children who live in rural communities across the U.S. are often unable to access the existing food sites. Meal delivery is critical for children in rural America to have consistent access to food when school is out. This is one way we, as citizens of this great nation, can respond to our neighbors in need,” said Jeremy Everett, Executive Director, Baylor University Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. “McLane Global was proud to take part in the success of the summer Meals-2-You home delivery pilot program in 2019. It was a great opportunity to bring private industry best practices together with the USDA to combat rural hunger.

 

♦  March 17, 2020 - California Health Department offers guidelines for farmers markets 

(1) Space booths accordingly to increase social distancing among patrons in line and walking about the market. (2) Ensure that social distancing of six feet per person for non-family members is maintained and make clear that family members can participate in activities together, stand in line together, etc. (3) Limit the number of customers at any given time as necessary to reduce outdoor/indoor crowding and lines to meet social distancing guidance. (4) Increase cleaning and sanitizing frequency of restroom and other high contact areas. (5) Train employees on best hygiene practices including washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (6) Offer additional hand washing or sanitizing stations throughout the venue. (7) Eliminate events/marketing that target individuals that the CDPH has identified as higher risk of serious illness for COVID-19. (8) Encourage activities such as pre-bagging to expedite purchasing. (9) Suspend sampling activities. (10) Increase frequency of cleaning of tables, payment devices, and other surfaces. (11) Eliminate non-essential/non-related services, such as bands or other entertainment. (12) At the end of the market, continue to utilize local food recovery systems to feed/donate extra products to populations in need. (13) If applicable, continue accepting EBT payment.” 

 

 

♦  March 17, 2020 - Elections Officials Urge Voters To Get An Absentee Ballot For Idaho's Primary In May  

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office is urging voters to get an absentee ballot instead of voting in-person during the upcoming May primary. Registered voters have until 11 days before the primary to request an absentee ballot, but it must be received the day polls close to count. Elections officials are currently exploring an online request option that would work for all 44 counties. You can find an absentee ballot request form online here, which must be sent to your county clerk’s office for approval. It could take some time to get to you if you request one right now. Absentee ballots will be mailed 30-45 days before the election. ” 

Given the rapid disruptions driven by COVID-19, we can work together to swiftly take this model nationwide. McLane Global is ready to do its part to support the fight against hunger through this crisis,” said Denton McLane, Chairman, McLane Global. “As schools around the country close, millions of schoolchildren now don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In the face of this unprecedented crisis, it’s critical that the private sector help ensure these students have access to nutritious meals,” said Jon Banner, Executive Vice President, PepsiCo Global Communications and President, PepsiCo Foundation. “PepsiCo is committing $1 million to help Baylor create a solution with USDA to identify children most in need and then we will help reach them with at least 200,000 meals per week—one way we are deploying our food and beverage resources to help those most vulnerable.”” 

 

♦  March 16, 2020 - Pesticide Training Events Postponed 

In regard to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is taking precautionary actions to protect the safety of our customers. Effective immediately all pesticide-related training events hosted by ISDA have been postponed and will be rescheduled on a later date.” 

 

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