COVID-19 Resources for Farms, Agribusiness, & Consumers

COVID-19 Resource Portal

Below are resources we’ve compiled from local, state, and federal organizations regarding COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) and its impact on the agricultural community in Maryland. We will update it frequently as new information is released.

Read a statement from our Director regarding COVID-19.

Last update: June 3rd, 2020

Go to: CONSUMER RESOURCES | FARMER RESOURCES

 

MARBIDCO’s Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program

 

SMADC is partnering with the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) on their new Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program, specifically to assist Southern Maryland food and fiber producers, harvesters and primary processors adjust to business disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Southern Maryland loan recipients will receive a grant of an additional 5% of the loan amount from SMADC funds. The grant will be turn-key and administered seamlessly through MARBIDCO. Applications must be submitted by June 15th. Learn more at https://bit.ly/2RJBfK0.

 

Where + How to Buy Local during COVID-19 Map

Farms, Farm Stands & Farmers’ Markets: If you’re not listed on this map and should be, please click here to fill out a quick form.

 

Mental Health Resources

The outbreak of COVID-19 can feel overwhelming for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease, especially a new virus, can be stressful. There are online resources to support you. Please reach out if you need help.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health from Maryland Department of Health

Maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak from Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

Rural Response to Farmer Mental Health and Suicide Prevention from the Rural Health Information Hub

 

University of Maryland Extension Update for Southern Maryland

For over 150 years, University of Maryland Extension has fulfilled its mission of delivering science-based education to Maryland communities. We will not waiver on that promise. Our educators and faculty members are quickly developing new learning opportunities to continue to meet the needs of our customers and are working to ensure you have the science-based information you need to protect people and reinvigorate businesses threatened by COVID-19. We are ready to serve you.

While our offices are closed, we are still working to provide assistance.

  • Call or email us: We continue to answer questions and conduct field research to deliver the resources you need.
  • Field visits: If needed and following social distancing protocol, we continue to conduct on-site field visits for diagnosis of production issues.
  • Online Resources: We are expanding online learning available at the website below. Find online pesticide and nutrient voucher recertification here: https://go.umd.edu/iKp 

 

We are here to help you. Contact any of your Southern Maryland Agents:

Alan Leslie 301-542-7612 aleslie@umd.edu https://extension.umd.edu/charles-county

Ben Beale 301-481-7209 bbeale@umd.edu https://extension.umd.edu/st-marys-county

Dave Myers 410-980-1768 myersrd@umd.edu https://extension.umd.edu/anne-arundel-county

 

Find the Right COVID-19 Support Resources for Your Business

The Maryland Business Relief Wizard is a tool that helps connect businesses with the resources and programming for which they’re eligible, streamlining the process of finding support.

MDA Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland Farm Bureau COVID-19 Resources

Maryland Farm Bureau has compiled a list of resources and press clips. Please visit here.

American Farm Bureau also has information on the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture.

 

University of Maryland Extension COVID-19 Resources for Health & Wellness

A list of national, state, and local resources covering finances, food safety, and more. Please visit here.

 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources FAQs

Given the announcement of the governor’s Roadmap to Recovery, the state has now expanded opportunities for outdoor exercise and recreation in the state and on Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) properties. Please visit here.

 

Grow & Fortify’s Resource Hub for Value-Added Agriculture

G&F understand that the health of Maryland’s value-added agriculture, craft manufacturing and tourism industries, their businesses and customers are of top concern to our clients and members. Here are some helpful resources to consider related to your business.

 

COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide

USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America.

 

Farmers’ Guide to COVID-19 Relief 

Comphrensive guide for the agricultural industry on the CARES Act General Programs and Agricultural Provisions, plus other regulatory guidance. Download now.

Resources For Consumers

Agriculture Education for Kids

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF)

MAEF will be showcasing lessons, videos, and activities to do with your kids to keep their minds engaged. Learn more here.

Maryland Farm & Harvest Episodes

To help increase the public’s understanding of Maryland agriculture, Maryland Public Television (MPT) in partnership with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is producing Maryland Farm & Harvest, a new series that will put a human face on farming, educate viewers about agriculture, and tell the stories of the industry that built this nation and continues to feed the world. Watch now here.

Virtual Farm Tours – Farm Food 360

Explore Canadian farms in 360 degrees. Check it out here.

Child Nutrition, WIC, and SNAP Programs

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Actions to Respond to COVID-19

USDA intends to use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve program participants across their 15 nutrition programs. They have already begun to issue waivers to ease program operations and protect the health of participants. Learn more here.

 

General Health and Wellness

Food Safety, Nutrition, and Wellness during COVID-19

As we navigate these unprecedented times, many are wondering how to safely shoporder, and prepare food to minimize transmission of the novel coronavirus. Harvard’s School of Public Health provides practical tips on health and wellness during the pandemic.

Unemployment Information

How to Apply for Maryland Unemployment Insurance

The Division of Unemployment Insurance’s website and call centers are currently experiencing an unprecedented volume of users due to COVID-19. This may result in long wait times. Learn more about their updated process for filing claims.

 

Resources For Farmers & Agribusiness

* Industry-Specific Resources *

Maryland Pick-Your-Own Operations during COVID-19 State of Emergency

Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Agriculture released FAQs, guidelines, and additional resources specifically for Pick Your Own Operations. Learn more here.

 

MARBIDCO’s Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program

SMADC is partnering with the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) on their new Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program, specifically to assist Southern Maryland food and fiber producers, harvesters and primary processors adjust to business disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Southern Maryland loan recipients will receive a grant of an additional 5% of the loan amount from SMADC funds. The grant will be turn-key and administered seamlessly through MARBIDCO. Learn more at https://bit.ly/2RJBfK0.

 

Essential Farm Worker and Contractor Work Permits

During the mandate to shelter in place, travel to and from farms is considered essential travel. If stopped and questioned by law enforcement, any workers traveling to or from the farm should have with them a letter indicating their place of employment and that their job is considered essential. The links below contain templates that can be downloaded and personalized for farm workers and contractors doing work on the farm.

Farm Worker Permit

Farm Contractor Permit

 

Farmer Relief Fund Through American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust has created a Farmer Relief Fund, which will award eligible farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The initial focus will be on farms that sell at farmers markets or to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products. That focus could change over time as the negative impacts of the crisis become more widespread within U.S. agriculture. Learn more at farmland.org/farmer-relief-fund/

 

Contracts, Labor, and Insurance – UMD’s Ag Law Education Initiative

Several blog posts and videos covering important topics such as contracts and insurance and the impacts of COVID-19.

Learn more here.

 

Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Food Donation Tax Credit

Governor Hogan has called for further donations to the Maryland Food Bank during this time of crisis. Farmers who have excess products or seconds to donate, or gleaning opportunities, should contact the Maryland Food Bank.

Farmers who donate food to a charity that participates in the state’s Food Donation Pilot Program are eligible for up to $5,000 per year of tax credit through the Food Donation Pilot Program against State income taxes. Learn more in Maryland Department of Agriculture’s recent press release here.

 

COVID-19 Assistance for Commercial Watermen and the Seafood Industry

The Hogan Administration acknowledges that the seafood industry is an iconic Maryland industry with commercial landing values over $82 million. The seafood industry also contributes over $600 million to Maryland’s economy. Given the economic hardships posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial watermen who are self-employed may be eligible for the several relief programs. Learn more here.

 

COVID-19 Readiness Assessment for the Continuity of Farm Business

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture in collaboration with Penn State Extension created this open-source assessment for farmers to help you develop a continuity of business plan during the pandemic.

Completing the steps in this assessment will help you modify your operations to protect the health of everyone on your farm, as well as your customers, while having a backup plan for worst-case scenarios—such as you or your employees falling ill, suppliers shutting down, or markets closing.

Farmers, market managers, and related businesses are permitted to use, modify, and distribute this resource as needed.

 

USDA H-2A/H-2B Worker Information

USDA and Department of Labor have identified nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. There will be workers leaving these positions who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. Learn more here.

Free Marketing Resources & Webinars

Future Harvest CASA’s Upcoming Webinars

Staying Safe and Essential at Farmers Markets, June 18th from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Farmers Markets are essential spaces. Consumers depend on them for fresh, local foods, and vendors depend on them as an outlet through which to sell products. Keeping these markets open while maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority. However, markets must implement proper precautions and amend their more social practices. Farmers’ markets have traditionally allowed farmers to socially engage with consumers. At this time, farmers’ markets must first and foremost shift to providing essential spaces for people to purchase fresh, local food.   

Join us for an informative webinar with the market and farm managers of Potomac Vegetable Farms to learn how they are being innovative in design and responsive to their customers in these times!

Sliding Scale Donation. Register Here

 

MidAtlantic Women in Agriculture – Wednesday Webinars

Over 100 webinar recordings are available for free covering topics such as finances, human resources, legal, production, and marketing and social media. Watch them here.

 

Ohio State University Webinar – Options for Online Sales of Local Foods

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, producers are increasingly turning to online sales as an option for the 2020 growing season. Take advantage of this free webinar to learn how to continue to serve your customers through online sales. Several options will be shared to help you explore what platform might work for your farm. Learn more here.

 

Online Course from Alderspring Ranch – Start Selling Online & Shipping in Five Days

Free mini-course on shipping frozen product, specifically designed for farmers who would like to start direct delivering or shipping via online storefront. Learn about how to build an online store, where to buy shipping materials needed, and how to package your product to ship without damage. Start the course now.

 

Sustainable Food Lecture Series – College of Ag and Natural Resources, UMD

This carefully curated schedule of events is solely dedicated to topics related to sustainability and the role of agriculture in environmental, social, and economic issues, with a heavy emphasis on the food we consume in our everyday lives. This series is part of our strategic initiative, Establish a Healthy Food System and Ensure Global Food and Nutritional Security.

View the recordings here.

 

University of Maryland Extension – Changing Marketing Plans for COVID-19

Marketing strategies for farms and agribusiness by Ginger Myers. Download

COVID and Agritourism in Maryland by Ginger Myers. Learn more here.

Online Sales – Here to Stay. Learn more here.

Food Safety Information

FDA Briefing to Food Stakeholders

Recording of FDA briefing for food stakeholders to discuss food safety and food supply questions related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). FDA provided an overview of current activities, respond to stakeholders’ concerns identified in recent days, and highlight important FDA resources in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

 

Food Safety Resources: FSMA & Other Updates

EAS Consulting Group is providing the following summary gathered from recent information releases and summaries from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding their operations during the continuing COVID-19 public health challenge. FDA, as part of their updates, does provide additional references, including questions and answers. Learn More

 

Future Harvest CASA’s Safety Protocol for Food Safety and Distribution

This document provides guidelines for: On-Farm Pickups & CSAs, Farmers Markets, and Employee Safety.

 

NC State Extension – Food Safety Infosheets

The following resources provide best practices for preparing for COVID-19 and managing risk for individuals at home and for food environments such as restaurants, grocery stores, food banks, gardens and farms. These resources are based on guidance and best practices as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO) and the best available science.

Read more at: https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/covid-19-resources/

 

USDA Coronavirus Information Portal

Get the latests updates, information and guidance from USDA at usda.gov/coronavirus

General Business Resources

State of Maryland Interpretive Guidance for Essential/Non-Essential Designation

Below are links to the proclamations and orders issued by Governor Larry Hogan related to COVID-19, along with interpretive guidance from the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel. Get Guidance

 

Federal Guidelines for Essential/Non-Essential Designation

Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. This guidance and accompanying list are intended to support State, Local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response. Get Guidance

 

Maryland State Resources for Business

Information, resources and guidance for Maryland business owners can be found at govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business

*While some businesses who applied for Maryland Commerce COVID-19 Relief funding may have received approval notifications, please note funds are still being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning with those who applied on March 23. Please visit our FAQs for more information on disbursement.

Maryland Horse Industry Updates

Maryland Horse Industry Updates

From the Maryland Horse Industry, highlighted information addressing the most critical points relevant to the equine community and industry. Via Equiery

 

Maryland Horse Council COVID-19 Resources for the Horse Community

The Maryland Horse Council has compiled a list of federal and state resources specifically for the horse community, including grant and loan programs. Learn more here.

 

Horses for Courses! Free Farm-Based Education Curriculum

Looking for at-home lessons and activities? Download MHIB’s FREE “Horses for Courses: Farm-Based Education Curriculum”.

Families and stables are looking for activities and lessons while they are staying at home. We would like to offer our “Horse for Courses Curriculum” for everyone to use for lessons and fun!

If you have any questions please email: anne.litz@maryland.gov.

On-Farm Safety Recommendations

From the Maryland Farm Bureau

Farm businesses are responsible for setting up a plan for safety in their operations. We recommend posting your farm or business’ safety procedures so customers and the public can see them when arriving. There have been several violation complaints from patrons and community members who see or perceive unsafe actions. Please share the following safety recommendations with other farmers in your area. 

U-Pick, CSA, Farmers Market, and On-Farm Safety Recommendations

 

  1. Wash your hands frequently 
Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub to kill viruses that may be on your hands. It is important to pay close attention to thoroughly cleaning the entire surface of your hands and paying attention to areas between the fingers, knuckles and the back of your hands.
 
  1. Disinfect all hard surfaces on a regular basis
 Hard surfaces should be disinfected regularly to prevent contamination and spread of the disease.
 
  1. Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 6 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Remember, that the virus must enter your body through some mechanism for you to become contaminated – that includes being near someone else who is sick or touching your face with contaminated hands.
  1. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
 
  1. Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
 
  1. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. 
 
Additional Tips to Consider Enforcing

  1. Customers should follow signage to the designated pick-up spot.
  2. Do not allow customers to touch anything other than their purchased items.
  3. Request advance payment or credit card if possible.
  4. No samplings or tastings allowed.
 
Additional guidance specific to U-pick farms is available here. For additional safety guidance related to farm and farm stand workers, please click here. Please check Maryland Farm Bureau’s Coronavirus page for the latest news and updates at mdfarmbureau.com/coronavirus.
 
 
Employer Action Steps

  1. Talk with your employees about coronavirus, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected.
  2. Print the CDC factsheets and posters. Post them in your workplace and employee housing facilities.
  3. Provide guidance to help employees clean and disinfect employer-provided housing. Follow up with employees and manage the process to be sure that this happens. Set up a regular weekly and daily schedule for cleaning.
  4. Clean and disinfect your workplace. The employee breakroom and bathroom are great places for the virus to be transmitted. Clean and disinfect any areas where employees congregate or routinely touch items such as doorknobs and computer keyboards. Set up daily and weekly cleaning schedules.
  5. Provide cleaning supplies such as cleaning solutions, buckets, mops, brushes, etc for cleaning at work and for those living in employer-provided housing. 
  6. Review your sick leave policy. The first advice for people who are sick is to stay home except to get medical care. Do you provide paid sick leave for your employees? If you do not, will employees feel financially obligated to come to work even if they are sick? 
  7. Communicate with employees that they should stay home if they are sick. Employees sometimes come to work believing they will face punishment or firing if they miss work. Be sure your employees understand that their health and that of their co-workers’ comes first. Communicate and make a plan to cover for sick employees.
    • CDC provides posters in English and Spanish covering symptoms of novel coronavirus.
  8. Prepare your disaster contingency plan. What will you do if 50% of your employees become sick and unable to work? Are there neighboring farms who might be able to share resources in an emergency? Who will manage for a few weeks if you or another key manager are unable to leave your house or are hospitalized?
Small Business Relief Programs

Find the Right COVID-19 Support Resources for Your Business

The Maryland Business Relief Wizard is a tool that helps connect businesses with the resources and programming for which they’re eligible, streamlining the process of finding support.

 

Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses

NOTE: As of 5 p.m. on April 6, Commerce is no longer accepting new applications for its COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant and Loan Programs. All applications that have been submitted are currently being reviewed in the order received.

Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs. If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance:

Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum.

Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program for businesses and non-profits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020.

Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country.

COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – This program is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19 by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. Up to $50,000 per applicant can be used in a customizable way for the specific needs of each business to minimize layoffs. Grant applications will be awarded from March 23 through 30-days after the State of Emergency ends (subject to funding availability). 

Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program – Work Sharing is a voluntary program that provides an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a temporary, non-cyclical decline in business due to lower economic activity. The program is designed to avoid layoffs by preserving jobs for trained workers. 

Get the latest information on Maryland’s Business Emergency Relief Fund Programs at commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-programs.

 

Charles County COVID-19 Business Loans

Charles County Government has created the COVID-19 Business Relief Fund to help local businesses during this national crisis. Under this program, eligible businesses can apply for loans up to $5000 with deferred repayment. For even more assistance, the Economic Development Department’s existing revolving loan programs have also been adapted to address the immediate needs of county businesses.

You can use one application to apply for any of these loan programs.

URGENT UPDATE:  As expected, we have had enormous response to this loan program. Once you request an application, you will receive instructions on submitting your application.  We strongly encourage interested businesses to submit completed loan application packages as soon as possible. Due to limited appropriation funding, we will stop accepting completed loan applications once the requests have exceeded total funds available.

 

Prince George’s County COVID-19 Business Fund

The Prince George’s County COVID19 Business Relief Fund is a $15M fund established to provide financial assistance to businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Relief Fund can be used to support cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other business critical cash operating costs. 

There is a $0 Application Fee and the applications will be available April 13th – May 15th.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
 
This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private nonprofit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.
 

 

Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARE Act

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.
 
To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local SBA District Office, which you can locate here.