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*.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 continues to be a major concern for produce farmers and consumers. We’ve put together a new tab labeled “COVID-19 Resources” which includes a number of resources from Clemson, SC Dept. of Agriculture, SC Farm Bureau, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Additions are being made regularly, so check back often.
Also, AgriSafe is offering a webinar this afternoon titled “What Ag Producers Need to Know About COVID-19.” If you are interested in participating, click here.
Zack Snipes reports, “Amid the COVID-19 outbreak the weather has really helped out our crops here in the Lowcounty. Strawberries are pushing out with great flavor and size after a break the past few weeks. Tomatoes are still being planted and look great with the warm sunny weather we have had. Winter and early spring crops are being harvested and look beautiful right now. I have seen some brassica fields beginning to bolt with the longer days and warming weather so get them out of the fields soon. If you are having trouble selling produce consider contacting LauraKate McAllister to be put on the SC Dept of Ag “Find Local Farm Fresh Food During COVID-19” list.
Clemson Extension will be posting on social media and the Home Garden Information Center about this webpage so your farm will want to be highlighted there. Clemson Extension is here to help everyone through this time so feel free to reach out to us.”
Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was beautiful last week and crops in the field are developing fast. Some of our strawberry growers have begun picking. Once yields pick up a little, most are still planning to have U-pick, with some precautions. Early reports are that sales have been good despite concerns that coronavirus would hurt demand. Spider mites have still been showing up, so keep scouting regularly. The drier weather last week slowed disease down, but moisture is returning to the forecast this week, so don’t let up on spray programs.”
Tony Melton reports, “Started planting Butterbeans and snap beans to beat the heat. Also planting Squash and other cucurbits from seed. There aren’t enough strawberries right now to meet the demand as everyone wants the first strawberries.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are bursting with blooms and many apple varieties are starting to show silver and even green tip stages. We are excited about the season and are continuing to monitor temperatures. More rain again today.”
COVID-19 has become a concern for fruit and vegetable growers, especially those expecting to open U-Pick operations in the coming weeks. It is unknown at this time how the virus, quarantines, and closures will affect produce sales. Updates will be shared on the SC Grower each week in regards to this issue. In the meantime, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves, your workers, and customers.
Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I received a couple samples of the aquatic weed Eurasian Watermilfoil this month from irrigation and other water-filled ditches. This invasive weed has been moving South and can block up waterways. Sonar herbicide is effective against this weed. Draining the ditches and allowing the weed to dry out can reduce the viability of this weed as well.”
Zack Snipes reports, “Things are warming up and drying out in the Lowcountry. Everyone is very busy preparing land and planting. Tomato planting will continue this week.”
Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was mostly warm and sunny and there’s been lots of pine pollen in the air. Believe it or not, we have some places that are dry and are being irrigated. We have some ripe strawberries around that are ready to pick and I have been pleasantly surprised with the taste so far. It won’t be long before U-Pick operations are open. The dry weather has allowed spider mite populations to pick up and lots of folks have put out miticides. Be sure to scout regularly and stay on top of sanitation.”
Sarah Scott reports, “Most peach trees in the middle part of the state are well into bloom if not beyond. A break in the rain has given growers a chance to get into the field and spray for blossom blight as well as begin herbicide sprays in some orchards. There appears to be very little damage from previous cold nighttime temperatures but we will still have to wait to get the full scope until fruit development begins. Vegetable plastic has gone in later than usual due to muddy, wet field conditions. Spring brassicas are being planted and potatoes are still going in as well.
Tony Melton reports, “Hurrying to get greens planted before the rain. Most sweet potato beds are in. Picking strawberries, but botrytis is bad because of all the rain and cloudy weather. Some are looking to start planting butterbeans soon to get ahead of the summer heat. Soil temperatures are good but, we never know about late frosts. It looks like we have some thinning of flowers/fruit on peaches with the cold temperatures, however, right now we still have a good crop.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “We are starting to see some beautiful peach blooms here in the Upstate. The ‘Belle of Georgia’ blooms are at about 80% in Long Creek as of Thursday. Lots of honeybees were out doing their work.”
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.
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