Building Resilience through COVID-19 Health and Safety

Sharing information on how to take care of ourselves, our employees and our customers.

As we move toward reopening our businesses and lives, we need to make sure we are prepared for doing things differently. Taking care of ourselves, our employees and our customers will require planning ahead to make sure we have COVID-19 safety in mind.

We are getting used to wearing our cloth face coverings in public, and maintaining 6-foot physical distance from others. These practices also apply to our farms, and when we are interacting with the public. Health and safety precautions, such as providing hand sanitizer for employees and the public, will take some planning ahead.

Below we share some important resources to help you plan. We will continue to update our farm resilience resource page as new information becomes available.


Cornell Cooperative Extension Distributing Free Hand Sanitizer and Masks to Farms

CCE has been working with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to find ways to assist farmers with continuing their operations while improving safety precautions.

Through CCE offices, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) is distributing 500,000 face masks to essential farm workers across the state. Also being distributed is hand sanitizer, produced in New York State and secured by NYSDAM.

Across the state, CCE offices have mobilized to receive and distribute hand sanitizer and masks to New York farmers, free of charge. Farmers can contact their local CCE office to request masks and sanitizer for their employees and retail areas.

Meanwhile, the Cornell Farmworker Program is also working hard to protect farmworkers. Anyone can get involved with the #4HMaskTask to help make reusable cloth masks for communities in need. These collaborations are evolving and ongoing.


How to Effectively Use Cloth Face Coverings

 

In New York State, there is an Executive Order on the use of face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19. It mandates that “any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”

The CDC recommends that these cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • include multiple layers of fabric.
  • allow for breathing without restriction.
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Providing Face Coverings to Your Employees

New York State has also issued guidance that all employees who interact with the public must wear cloth face coverings. You may have family members that are interacting with the public.

These recommendations apply to them, as well as those paid to work on the farm:

  • Provide employees with cloth face coverings and gloves.
  • Cloth face coverings must be used by employees if they are interacting with customers. These coverings must be provided by the farm.
  • Instruct employees on proper use, storage, and washing of face coverings.
  • It is recommended that one, five-pack of masks should be provided per employee.

Observing the Recommended 6-Foot Social Distancing

New York State’s guidance all states that we must observe a 6-foot physical distance from others. The virus is transmitted person to person through respiratory droplets, which is why this 6-foot physical distancing is so important.

As you prepare for employees and farm customers, you should:

  • Welcome people with a smile and a wave, but at a distance. No hugging or handshakes.
  • Post signs to emphasize physical distancing and hand sanitation.
  • Redesign customer flow to maintain physical distance.
  • Post signs at check-out to emphasize physical distancing while waiting.
  • Employees must maintain a 6-foot distance with each other and customers.
  • Enforce their use of cloth face coverings.
  • Consider installing clear plastic shields or dividers between employees and customers.

Maintaining a Clean and Sanitary Workplace

Establish a cleaning and sanitizing standard operating procedure (SOP) for frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, scale platforms, registers, other electronics, chairs, cash boxes, hand rails and port-a-john handles. Write these down and implement them daily.

For an example SOP that you can adapt to your farm, check out the Sanitation and Postharvest Handling Decision Tree.

Follow this four-step process for cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces:

  • Remove visible dirt and debris.
  • Wash with soap and water or appropriate detergent.
  • Rinse the surface of debris and detergent.
  • Sanitize with a food contact surface approved sanitizer.

Emphasize hand washing and sanitation as recommended for food safety in general.

  • Upon arriving at work, before and after eating, after using the restroom.
  • Provide training on how to properly wash hands.
  • Emphasize hand sanitation between customers.
  • The University of Minnesota created a low-cost hand washing station DIY.

Make sure you have an adequate stock of hand sanitizer:

  • About 750 ‘servings’ (about 5 mls) of hand sanitizer are in a gallon.
  • If one employee uses sanitizer 6 times in a day (at start and end of day, before and after lunch, before and after restroom visit), then a gallon would last approximately 125 days.
  • If you have a farm stand or U-Pick farm, and customers are using sanitizer 4 times (at start and end of visit and before and after checkout), a gallon would be enough for about 190 customer visits.

Instruct employees on proper use of disposable gloves for when dealing with customers or when using gloves as PPE during sanitation practice:

  • Wash hands before putting on new gloves.
  • Remove gloves before breaks, meals or toilet visits.
  • Take off gloves in a way that avoids touching the outside of the glove with either hand and dispose.
  • Wash hands.
  • Put on new gloves before starting work again.
  • If gloves are worn at check in or check out, sanitation between transactions must still be observed.

Encourage employees to arrive each day wearing clean clothes. Also, encourage employees to wash their farm clothes separately from other clothes.


Taking these proactive steps will protect your team and your customers and create a positive experience on the farm during this pandemic.


For Additional Information:

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has created an official COVID-19 resource page offering details and latest guidance as it relates to agriculture in the state.

The Cornell Small Farms Program is keeping a list of resources for farms to build resiliency through potential impacts from COVID-19.

The Cornell EDEN website is the hub of information for COVID-19 issues and resources.

The Cornell Ag Workforce is a great resource for updates on labor management issues and programs and policies related to ag workforce issues and COVID-19.

The Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University answers questions around the risks associated with food production with useful links to expert resources to ensure that a safe and robust food supply is maintained.

Kacey Deamer

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Cornell Small Farms Program’s communications specialist. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.

Financial assistance for farms facing COVID-19 Early options available for farms to support cash flow

Photo Credit Morning Ag Clips

Farm businesses and operations have been deemed essential and will continue to remain in operation producing high-quality, safe food products for consumers all across the world. However, with market disruptions, employees’ family obligations, and low commodity price projections, farm profitability uncertainties are an added source of concern. There have been early announcements of assistance that can ease cash flow issues and help farmers keep employees on payroll while maintaining their highest standards of quality, environmental stewardship, and animal wellbeing. Please keep in mind that this is a rapidly changing situation, and we can hope for additional funding announcements in the near future.

American Farmland Trust, a national organization dedicated to keeping our rural lands in agricultural production, has announced their “Farmer Relief Fund” initiative. This program will offer direct-market producers cash grants of $1,000 each to help ease the effect of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus. This can include the closure of farmers markets, decreased or interrupted sales to restaurants and institutional buyers, or to makers who use farm products as inputs.

The deadline to apply is April 23rd with grants awarded by May 1st. For more information, visit farmland.org/farmer-relief-fund.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) has made changes to their farm loan, disaster, conservation, and safety net programs to make it easier for customers to conduct business. While their county service centers are closed to the public, their staff are available to continue to work with the farming community by phone appointment. FSA has relaxed the loan-making process by extending the deadline for applicants to complete farm loan applications and preparing Direct Loans documents even if record searches cannot be completed because of closed government offices. FSA will continue to offer farm loans, commodity loans, farm storage facility loans, disaster assistance programs, safety net programs, conservation programs, and acreage reports with modifications meant to benefit the farmer and this situation’s unique challenges. For more information, contact your local service center or visit fsa.usda.gov.

The CARES Act’s recent Paycheck Protection Loan Program announcement will also provide emergency funding to farms via Small Business Administration loans. This low interest, forgivable loan program will be available starting April 3rd to cover payroll costs, utilities, mortgage interest, and/or rent. Farm owners should work with their existing lenders, if they are participating in the PPL program, to determine their eligibility and complete the expedited application. For more information on this program, visit sba.gov.

This situation can bring a lot of stress and anxiety for farm owners and managers. It is important to remember that managing and addressing risks early on, rather than avoiding them, will provide decision makers more time to make sound action plans to manage cash flow and long term profitability. The only way to make accurate decisions is to know the farm’s current financial situation which will involve record-keeping and business analysis. For more information on creating financial statements for your farm, contact your lender or Katelyn Walley-Stoll, Farm Business Management Specialist. Additionally, NY FarmNet recently released a helpful guide to “Managing Financial Stress on the Farm in Uncertain Times” and their consultants are available for free and confidential financial and personal counselling. For more information, call 1-800-547-3276 or visit nyfarmnet.org.

Beth Claypool, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s office in Wayne County has put together an extensive list of programs for Farmers related to farm operations during the pandemic. Visit http://ccewayne.org/environment/emergency-preparedness/up-to-date-information-on-the-corona-virus . These resources include recordings of recent agriculture related webinars related to COVID.  You can find other ag recordings on production practices, etc on the Ag Specialist Teams website.

If you would like more information please contact Cornell Cooperative Extension Wayne County at 315-331-8415 or email Beth at eac9@cornell.edu

(portions of content from this article was reprinted from Morning Ag Clips )

 

Novel Coronavirus Prevention & Control for Farms

The U.S. is confronting an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that causes serious respiratory disease and may be deadly for older people and those with weakened immune systems. The World Health Organization is now calling the outbreak a global pandemic because it is affecting countries all over the world. People and organizations can still fight coronavirus by taking steps to prevent transmission of the disease, the whole point of widespread cancellation of events is to create “social distancing” to lower the infection rate and prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed. New York State Department of Health also has a Coronavirus Website with English and Spanish posters for preventing coronavirus infection (https:/health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) provides clear guidance about preventing infection in both English and Spanish. They also provide a number of printable factsheets and posters in English and Spanish suitable for use in the workplace. (Download at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/factsheets.html)

Employer Actions Steps

Your farm workforce is not immune to coronavirus, please begin taking steps to protect yourself and your employees.

  1. Talk with your employees about coronavirus, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected.
  2. Print the CDC factsheets and posters, post 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 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. (CDC list of approved antimicrobial cleaning products: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdf)
  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?

At minimum, share the guidelines below from New York state with your employees and family.

New York State Department of Health Prevention Tips

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, these simple steps can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

_________________________________________________________________________________
By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post Novel Coronavirus Prevention & Control for Farms appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

Create a whimsical garden or conifer wind block – Order Now!

Create a whimsical garden with woodland ferns, iris, white dogwood, conifers and many other trees and shrubs offered at the District’s annual Forever Green Tree and Shrub Sale. By planting a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your property creates a wall against cold winter winds – saving you heating costs.

Locally grown bare-root stock is a great way to get started
at very reasonable prices. 

Blue Bird Boxes make great giftsWith over 50 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowering plants to choose you can choose from evergreen trees, deciduous trees and shrub, berry bushes, ground covers, woodland ferns, and other conservation packs. There are also five different habitat boxes for birds and bats, tree tube kits, marking flags and fertilizer tablets to help establish and protect transplants, as well as barley straw rolls for pond management.

Products can be ordered by phone, through the mail, or through the online.

Start by visiting  https://waynecountynysoilandwater.org/forever-green-sale/

A catalog with images and item descriptions can be found on the website along with a printable form that can be used to mail check payments.

Orders with payment, accepted through Friday, April 10th 2020. All major credit cards are accepted.

If you have questions about plant selection or would like to place an order by phone, please call our office at (315) 946-7200.

New York State Announces two Grant Opportunities to Help New York Farmers Protect Soil and Water Quality

AEM$19 Million Will be Provided through the State’s Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program and the Agricultural Non-Point Source Abatement and Control Program, applications Due March 2 and April 13

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced two grant opportunities totaling $19 million for projects that will help New York’s farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy savings, mitigate water and soil quality concerns, and increase on-farm resiliency to climate change.

Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Abatement and Control Program

A total of $15 million is available to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the State through Round 26 of the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program.

The Agricultural Nonpoint program awards projects that focus on either environmental planning or the implementation of best management practice systems to protect New York’s watersheds. Projects include conservation measures, such as nutrient management through manure storage, vegetative buffers along streams and conservation cover crops.

The District can apply on behalf of farmers for the competitive grant program, which is funded through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.  Project proposals are due at 4:30 pm on April 13, 2020.

To apply or receive more information, please contact Ron Thorn or call our offices at 315-946-7200

In addition to the Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution Abatement and Control Program, the State has funding available under the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program.

Climate Resilient Farming

These funds help farms reduce their operational impact on the environment and address the impacts of extreme weather events resulting from climate change. Through four rounds of funding, awarded projects are estimated to deliver the equivalent of 15,513 metric tons of CO2e per year emissions reductions, equivalent to removing 3,294 cars from the road for one year. The 2019-2020 State Budget, through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, provided for an additional $4 million in funding for this fifth round.

Funding will support agricultural projects and equipment purchases that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help agricultural producers prepare for and better manage impacts of climate change, including increased heavy storm events, overall rainfall, and periods of drought.

For the first time, the Climate Resilient Farming Grant Program includes funding specifically for the Healthy Soils NY initiative. Applications must be for one of the following project categories: Track 1 – agricultural waste storage cover and flare systems; Track 2 – water management systems; and Track 3- Healthy Soils NY, soil health management practice systems.

Track 1 – $2 million is available for manure storage cover and flare systems to reduce methane emissions from the farm and increase the farm’s resiliency to major precipitation events.
Track 2 – $1 million is available for water management projects to prepare agricultural producers for flood events and drought.
Track 3 – $1 million for the Healthy Soils NY initiative to improve soil health on farms and enhance a farm’s resiliency to the impacts of climate change, including drought and wet weather. Soil health management practice systems can also create carbon sinks, increase water holding capacity, and improve the recycling of nitrogen by crops, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

To apply or receive more information, please contact Ron Thorn or call our offices at 315-946-7200. Project proposals are due at 4:30 pm on March 2, 2020.

The application and additional information are available on the Department’s website at https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/funding-opportunities.

New York Agriculture in the Classroom Grants Available

Photo Credit NY Ag in the Classroom

The New York Agriculture in the Classroom Grants are now open for indoor grow systems for schools in NY interested in a classroom project. Schools can apply for three types of grow systems that would best meet their educational goals, classroom space needs, along with experience level in school gardening and curriculum integration.

New York Agriculture in the Classroom aspires to provide teachers the tools to facilitate experiential-learning opportunities using agriculture as the context for learning by investing $70,000 in the grant program.

The selected schools that receive grow systems will be asked to submit two progress reports yearly, and respond to messages or inquiries as asked. Regional Agriculture in the Classroom curriculum training will be held during the school year, and at least one teacher from the recipient school must attend the training. The educator trainings will deepen your understanding of the paired curriculum available and companion resources, and allow for teachers to develop a network of support in each region.

Interested teachers can apply for one of three available grow systems: a 2445 soil-based rack grow system, a bundle of three aeroponic tower gardens, or a high tunnel. Schools will be awarded the grow system that best meets their educational goals, classroom space needs, experience level in school gardening, and curriculum integration plans. The systems will serve as “garden classrooms” where food-based learning can be integrated with math, science, language arts, and social studies while helping teachers meet core curriculum requirements. In addition, recipients will receive educational resources, workshop opportunities, and access to a growing network of school food gardeners throughout the state.

Interested teachers can apply for the Grow with Us Grant by Friday, January 3, 2020.

More information about the Grow with Us Grant and the application can be found by visiting the New York Agriculture in the Classroom website at www.agclassroom.org/ny.

New York Agriculture in the Classroom is a partnership of Cornell University, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and New York Farm Bureau. New York Agriculture in the Classroom fosters an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of our food and fiber system.

 

Grown And Certified on Display at Tourism Centers Across NYS

New York State “Grown and Certified” Christmas trees and wreaths will be on display in the state’s regional welcome centers and Taste NY stores, promoting New York’s agricultural and tourism industries.

New York’s Christmas tree industry sells nearly 300,000 trees from more than 750 tree farms located across the state.

The NYS Grown & Certified program tells buyers the products they are selecting come from farmers who grow their products in an environmentally-responsible manner.

NYS Grown & Certified participating tree farm producers in Wayne County are:

Brick Church Farms Christmas Trees and Gift Shop
5502 S. Geneva Rd.
Sodus, New York
(315) 483-9876

Franke Farms
3700 Boss Road Extension
Marion, NY
(315) 986-1349

New York State’s agriculture industry is one of our great assets and keeping it growing and thriving is one of the most important things we can do. When you see products with the New York State Grown & Certified seal, you are assured that it comes from a local farm that adheres to high food safety standards and environmentally responsible practices.

To learn more about the NYS Grown and Certified program contact Ian Priestley AEM Specialist at 315-946-7200 or email: Ian@wayneNYswcd.org

Funding Provided for Agricultural Projects that Help Farmers Address Water Quality Challenges in Wayne County and across NYS

This week Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $16.2 million has been awarded to support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the state.

As part of the funds awarded, Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive $95,105.00 to provide assistance to three farms to address erosion and phosphorus export, stormwater control and green infrastructure improvements to roofs and gutter systems to direct stormwater away from sensitive areas. Since the inception of the Ag Non-Point program, WCSWCD has assisted over 40 farms with the implementation of best management practices. These BMPs have had a direct effect on potential pollutants from entering the waterways and provide substantial water quality improvements to the watersheds of Wayne County.

All projects support the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Program by funding the implementation of agricultural water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) to protect natural resources while maintaining the economic viability of New York State’s diverse agricultural community. In total, more than 90 farms will benefit from the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program. For a complete list of projects awarded, please visit the Department of Agriculture website.

“New York is a leader in the fight to protect clean water, preserve agriculture for the future and combat climate change,” Governor Cuomo said. “From our aggressive clean energy plan to environmentally responsible farm practices, we are committed to supporting projects that will protect our natural resources and ensure a better future for the next generation. This program, which paved the way for many of our other on-farm environmental protection programs, continues to help our farmers use cost-effective methods to protect our waterways.”

The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets administers the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program in coordination with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee. The program is a part of the Agricultural Environmental Management framework, a broader effort that helps farmers achieve higher levels of environmental stewardship and more efficient, cost-effective farming systems.

Through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program in coordination with the New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee projects include best management practice systems to keep nutrients and other potential pollutants from entering waterways. BMPs include a variety of measures including, vegetative buffers along streams, cover crops, nutrient management through manure storage, and other conservation measures.

The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program is funded in the 2018-19 State Budget through the historic $300 million New York State Environmental Protection Fund. Since 1993, New York State has dedicated approximately $210 million to the program.

The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program builds on the Governor’s efforts to provide historic water quality protections across the state through the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017. In 2019, the New York State budget also committed an additional $500 million for capital costs of clean water infrastructure projects.

Following Governor Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State announcement, state agencies allocated more than $82 million in competitive grants for projects to address nutrient pollution in water bodies that have been affected by harmful algal blooms. For more information visit https://www.agriculture.ny.gov/

 

 

Are you in an Ag District? Do you need a Soil Group Worksheet?

The agricultural assessment program allows eligible farmland owners to receive real property assessments based on the value of their land for agricultural production rather than on its development value.  Any assessed value which exceeds the equalized agricultural assessment on the land may qualify for a reduced tax assessment.

Landowners must apply through the local town assessor for an agricultural assessment. Further Information on Agricultural Districts can be found here, contact information for local assessors can be found here.

Do you qualify? Find out by visiting the Soil Group page, there you can find more information about the program and will be able to download a brochure. You may also call our office at 315-946-7200

Take action to stop spotted lanternfly by reporting tree-of-heaven in New York State!

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) feed on many different tree species but are particularly attracted to an invasive tree species known as tree-of-heaven). Any SLF that make their way to New York will be drawn to tree-of-heaven – and they will not stop there. They will next move to feed on native and economically valuable New York plant species, such as maple trees, apple trees, hops, grapes, poplar species, and many others.

This is where you come in: report any tree-of-heaven that you see across New York, and we will be able to watch for and locate SLF more easily!

You can record data on invasive species right from your smartphone by using iMapInvasives, (https://www.imapinvasives.org/) New York’s invasive species database, available for iOS and Android.

Visit:

https://www.nyimapinvasives.org/calendar-of-events   to learn more about the app or to find a training hosted by your local Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM).

 

Photo Credit NYS Ag and Markets / USDA APHIS

Tree of Heaven

If you think you’ve seen the Spotted Lantern Fly, send photos and location info to spottedlanternfly@dec.ny.gov, or fill out an online report: https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/116595.html

How can your business help?

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Spotted Lantern Fly Fact Sheet

Penn State Spotted Lanternfly Management for Homeowners

 

 

Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District
7312 RT 31 Lyons, NY 14489
315-946-7200

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