Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2

From the Farm Service Agency.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for Specialty Crop Producers

More than 230 fruit, vegetable, horticulture, and tree nut commodities are eligible for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) along with honey, maple sap, floriculture and nursery crops. Check to see if the crops you grow are eligible through our Eligible Commodities Finder on farmers.gov/cfap.

Don’t miss a “beet” and apply for CFAP 2 by December 11, 2020, through your local USDA Farm Service Agency.

Learn more at farmers.gov/cfap or call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. 

COVID Ag Impact Survey

Clemson Cooperative Extension is inviting you to participate in a research study. The purpose of this research is to collect information on the impacts of COVID-19 on the agricultural industry and understand the effects (positive and negative) on specialty crop and direct marketing farms in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) is a collaborator on the survey.

Efforts like this allow Clemson Extension to improve the quality of life of all South Carolinians by providing unbiased, research-based information. Extension works to help support South Carolina’s $42 billion agriculture and forestry industries. Any collected data will be used in aggregate form. Survey results may be shared with Extension faculty, staff and / or outside organizations in an effort to further understand the impact COVID-19 has had on South Carolina agriculture.

The survey is voluntary and anonymous. It will take you about 7 minutes to complete the survey. Click here to access the survey.

As always, we appreciate your feedback and participation in Clemson Cooperative Extension programs.

If You Receive Seeds in the Mail that You Didn’t Order, Don’t Open Them!

Small packages of seeds have started showing up in the mail around the country, including in SC, and no one is sure why. The packages appear to be from China and that’s about all we know at this time. The SCDA and Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry are investigating, as is the USDA. Since we do not yet know if the packets contain invasive species or plant diseases that may affect our agriculture industry, we need to take this seriously.

SC Agriculture Department warns against planting mystery seeds ...

A mysterious package of seed that recently arrived in Greenville, SC from China. Note the false description of contents on the shipping label. Photo from The Post and Courier

If you receive a package of seeds that you did not order, follow these steps:

See Clemson’s press release on the mystery seeds here.

USDA Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for SC Producers

Hurricane season is upon us and the USDA has recently come out with a series of Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for SC Producers. There is (or will soon be) a guide for just about every type of crop and agricultural commodity including:

Fruit Tree Produce (Peaches, Pecans, Apples, etc.) – Coming Soon

Onions – Coming Soon

Strawberries – Coming Soon

Tomato, Pepper, and Eggplant

Watermelon

For the full list of guides for South Carolina, see the USDA page here.

 

Bob Hall Named Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year for SC

Bob Hall of  Bush-N-Vine Farm in York, SC is this year’s Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year for South Carolina. He was nominated by Upstate Clemson Extension Agent, Andy Rollins. Rollins said of Hall, “I am so proud of him and all his family for all they have done to make their farm and community great.”  Hall will be competing against farmers from other states in the Southeast for the overall 2020 Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA, which will be held October 20-22, 2020.

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South Carolina’s 2020 Swisher Sweets Farmer of the Year, Bob Hall.

Update to Small Business Administration COVID-19 Related Loans

From the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been administering two particular pots of money that businesses have been able to access during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pots of money were first funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and are called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

Originally with the exception of a small carve-out, most of agriculture was not eligible for the EIDL but as long as they met specific criteria they were able to access the PPP. During this time, additional rules and guidance had been released and updated multiple times which has provided additional information as well as confusion and created more questions than may have been answered. Then the money ran out. Over the past week, Congress has been working on an additional appropriation for these two funds through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPPHCEA). On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the amendment and bill and by April 22, 2020, it was sent to the U.S. House. The U.S. House passed the bill on Thursday, April 23, 2020, and sent it on for the President’s signature. The President is expected to sign it on Friday, April 24, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act appropriated additional funds as follows:

  •  $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program:
    • As part of the $310 billion, there is a carve-out that created a set-aside for $30 billion of the funds to go directly through “insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions” for “community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions, and credit unions”. This means it includes community development financial institutions, and credit unions Institutions that have consolidated assets of less than $10 billion will have the potential to access and lend the $30 billion that has been appropriated for that group of financial institutions.
    • $280 billion of the $310 billion that was appropriated can be accessed through institutions that can service SBA loans and programs as was done through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
  • $10 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan:
    o Producers of agricultural enterprises are specifically stated as eligible for EIDL if they meet the definition of small business.
  • The bill also provides funds to be used for health and human services purposes:
    • $75 billion to be used by eligible healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues due to COVID-19.
    • $25 billion to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. This allows for research and development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, and administering of COVID-19 testing.

If you have an interest in being able to access any funds to assist your farm or business that has been affected due to COVID-19 related reasons we recommend you check with your local lending institutions or the Small Business Administration (SBA) NOW! It is expected that the funding that has been appropriated will not last very long.

SBA Link to download pdf of Participating Lenders for PPP:
SBA Link to apply for EIDL

For further information and links about the loans and other COVID-19 related issues please visit the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team COVID-19 Resources website.

Further information on general agricultural business-related information and farm management can be found at the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team’s webpage.

Is Your Business Having Cash Flow Problems due to COVID-19?

From Clemson Agribusiness Associate Steve Richards.

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act has been in the news recently.  You may have heard stories about emergency loans, cash for individuals, and cash for small businesses.  While the details are still being hammered out in Washington, these are some steps you can take right now if your business needs cash*.

  1. Talk to Your Current Lender

Reach out to someone who is familiar with your operation – your current lender.  Many lenders have options available for loan payment deferments, credit limit increases, and possible interest rate reductions.  Your lender is invested in your business and wants to help you succeed.

  1. Apply for a Federal Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Relief Loan

Regulations on this loan option are still being written and loans take several weeks to process.  If you think you need this assistance, apply now.  If you do not like the terms of the assistance, you can always refuse to take it.  To apply for SBA financing, apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gove/ela/.

The general details of SBA Disaster relief loans:

  • Loan limits: $2,000,000 with collateral; $25,000 without collateral
  • Loan terms: Interest rates of 3.75% fixed and amortization of up to 30 years
  • Recent start-up businesses are eligible, but you must provide profit and loss projections
  • Loans are contingent on a credit check, verification of eligibility, an insurance review, and an estimation of losses.
  1. Contemplate the Impact of Additional Debt

Some of these SBA loan packages may include a debt forgiveness option.  However, you must consider the impact of additional debt on your operation and how that affects your future if this debt is not forgiven.  The Clemson Agribusiness Team is available to help if you need additional agribusiness related resources or assistance: https://www.clemson.edu/extension/agribusiness/

*As always, make these decisions with the assistance of your professional advisors: your accountant, your tax advisor, your attorney, and your management team.

Steve Richards is an Extension Associate with Clemson’s Agribusiness Team who specializes in Management, Finance, and Specialty Crop Marketing.  You can contact Steve at Stricha@clemson.edu

COVID-19 Protective Measures for U-Pick Farms

From Clemson Food Safety Agent, Chad Carter.  Chad has also distributed these plans (Handwashing_station_instructions-1) for constructing handwashing stations for field workers and U-pick customers. 

As COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is being monitored across the State of South Carolina, growers have questions as to whether to continue operations, especially at U-Pick farms. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN reports that “While COVID-19 is not known to be a foodborne illness, usual good practice as regards handling of animals and good food hygiene throughout the food chain are essential for public health and will aid in the prevention and control of infectious diseases.”  It is important that growers enforce good personal hygiene policies on farm which include frequent and proper handwashing, not working on or visiting farms when ill, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends these basic protective measures.

  • Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills 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.

  • Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.  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.

  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? 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.

  • 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.

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

  • 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.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

 

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

 

For Additional Information:

WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

FAO: http://www.fao.org/2019-ncov/en/

SCDHEC: https://www.scdhec.gov/health/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

EFSA: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/coronavirus-no-evidence-food-source-or-transmission-route

Cornell Ag Workforce Development: https://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/2020/03/12/novel-coronavirus-prevention-control-for-farms/?fbclid=IwAR33L94TtqPQYynR0nHh7VliLGawWaeRCcM_APvei8c2ExtIYEZZWBWjg38

Input Needed for Produce Marketing Research

From Clemson Extension Vegetable Specialist Dr. Brian Ward:

Do you hate when you have to fill an order with specific beet size requirements?  Is it a lifesaver when a customer picks up produce from your farm?  Researchers at Cornell University want your help in answering these questions and others relating to how you make marketing decisions on your farm!  Earn a $20 Amazon gift card for taking this 20 minute survey and make your voice known on what factors influence you to sell or not sell to a wholesaler.  Click to take the survey: http://bit.ly/wholesale-survey.