COVID-19 Resources for Farms, Agribusiness, & Consumers
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: March 29, 2020
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
Governor Larry Hogan has issued an executive order requiring Marylanders to “Stay at Home,” effective 8 p.m March 30, 2020. As the state moves into the next phase of its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, essential industries are encouraged to continue operations while implementing best practices designed to protect employees, customers and the general public.
Agriculture and food-related businesses remain essential, however individual companies are asked to make an honest assessment as to whether their operation is essential to public health and safety.
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
DNR has clarified how state parks and recreational activities including hunting, fishing, and hiking are impacted by the mandated stay-at-home order issued on March 30th, 2020. Please visit here.
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.
Resources For Farmers & Agribusiness
Farm Labor Resources
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.
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
Free Marketing Resources & Webinars
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.
Date & Time: March 31, 2020 at 12:00 PM (EASTERN TIME)
Oregon State University Webinar – Farm to Freezer: The Logistics of Online Sales & Shipping Meat
Hear from three experienced panelists who sell their meats online & ship direct to consumers. Let’s turn the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to connect our niche meats to hungry consumers. Topics will include: setting up an online store, different web platforms, accepting payments, updating inventory, meat selection, subscriptions versus ala-carte orders, boxes, insulation, dry ice, maintaining cold chain, shipping carriers, costs, regulations. This will be more of an informal discussion than a formal presentation.
Date & Time: Apr 2, 2020 at 09:00 AM (PACIFIC TIME)
University of Maryland Extension – Changing Marketing Plans for COVID-19
Marketing strategies for farms and agribusiness by Ginger Myers. Download
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.
Register for one of their upcoming events to join remotely via phone/online or listen to previous seminars. A link to join will be emailed to you prior to the event starting.
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.
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
USDA Coronavirus Information Portal
Get the latests updates, information and guidance from USDA at usda.gov/coronavirus
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.
General Business Resources
State of Maryland Interpretive Guidance for Essential/Non-Essential Designation
COVID19-04 | March 23, 2020 Order of the Governor of the State of Maryland, Number 20-03-23-01, dated March 23, 2020, Amending and Restating the Order of March 19, 2020, Prohibiting Large Gatherings and Events and Closing Senior Centers, and Additionally Closing All Non-Essential Businesses and Other Establishments. 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
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
Small Business Relief Programs
Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses
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.
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/