Global/National/State Updates and Recommendations
- World Health Organization – How to Protect Yourself, FAQ, Updates, Travel Recommendations
- Center For Disease Control (CDC) – Symptoms of Corona Virus, How to Protect Yourself and Adults over 65
- Important updates and information on response to the Coronavirus by the State of California
Occupational Safety & Health Issues:
- (4/01/2020) President Trump extended his Coronavirus Guidelines for America through the next 30 days. Please click here for more information: 30 Days to Slow the Spread (Spanish)
- Safety Training Handout for Agricultural Workers (Spanish & English)
- U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administrations has issued Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. note that federal OSHA has recently indicated that workplace COVID-19 infections are recordable (on OSHA-Cal/OSHA logs) though on-the-job influenza and common cold infections are not recordable (see OSHA: COVID-19 Standards)
- Cal/OSHA Guidance on Requirements to Protect Workers from Corona Virus: intended for non-healthcare, general industry (including agricultural) employers. Please see the following update.
- (4/05/2020): California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA, has updated Safety and Health Guidance, COVID-19 Infection Prevention for Agricultural Employers and Employees. Cal/OSHA has released guidance outlining workplace practices to protect employees. The agency states the guidelines provide information for agricultural employers to update their Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs), saying “most California workplaces must consider the disease a workplace hazard.” The guidance does not recommend agricultural employers provide respirators to employees, except to the extent they are available and are provided to protect workers from excessive dust, Valley Fever spores, and other workplace respiratory hazards. A Spanish version can be found here.
- (4/07/2020) CDFA, working with Cal OES has created a list of PPE Suppliers. An important note, to the extent CDFA can, there has been an attempt to verify on a surface-level the vendors on this list. Because CDFA cannot fully vet the vendors, the buyer has an obligation to do their own. That list can be viewed HERE.
- Hand Sanitizer shortages reported with up to 2-month backorders. While not ideal, The World Health Organization has a “homemade recipe.”
- ADVISORY FOR AGRICULTURAL WORKER PROTECTION DURING COVID-19 CRISIS for agricultural worker protection during COVID-19 crisis from the County of Monterey. Adhering to already-stringent policies related to worker safety and hygiene.
- The FDA has updated its FAQ page with additional recommendations for food production/processing facilities and food retail establishments. Concerns addressed are social distancing, sanitizer alternatives, masks and employee testing (Posted 3/23/2020).
- Environmental Protection Agency list of disinfectant products registered for use against the novel coronavirus.
- COVID-19 Agricultural Worksite Checklist from UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health & Safety
- (4/15/2020) CDC has issued interim guidance on critical infrastructure workers who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19. The purpose of this guidance is to ensure continuity of operations of essential functions.
- (4/16/2020) DPR has released two new publications, in apparent response to concerns expressed from farmers about PPE shortages hampering pesticide applications: N95 Alternatives for Pesticide Handling and Gloves for Pesticide Handling
- (4/24/2020)The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued new guidance indicating that an employer may test an employee for COVID-19 before permitting the employee to enter the workplace without violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC’s reasoning is that the presence or absence of COVID-19 is job-related and consistent with business neccessity. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has not yet issues similar guidance, but often follows EEOC’s lead on these questions.
- (4/27/2020) The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has published guidance helping employers to distinguish between respirators, face masks, and cloth face coverings, which has been a topic of some confusion in recent weeks as CDC began to suggest use of face masks or face coverings and a number of California counties have mandated use of face masks for face coverings in their respective counties. You can view FDA (Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings in the Food and Agriculture Sector During Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic)
- (6/02/2020) U.S. Department of Labor and Center for Disease Control have released COVID-19 related Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employees. While this interim guidance are considered non-enforceable guidelines, they do largely track with guidance from Cal/OSHA, CA Dept. of Public Health, and county public health officers on issues like maintaining social distancing and grouping workers throughout a workday to minimize opportunities for transmission.
Agriculture Declared Critical Industry:
- The President has issued Coronavirus Guidelines For America, “15 Days To Slow The Spread”. While a growing number of local jurisdictions continue to issue “Shelter In Place” and curfew orders, agriculture has been designated as “Critical Industry”. The president made it clear in his March 16th directive that people working in critical industries such as food supply have a “special responsibility” to maintain normal work schedules. Read the CISA’s Guidance On The Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.
- In 2003, the Federal Government designated the Food and Agriculture Sector as a critical infrastructure sector, recognizing its significant contribution to national security and the economy. The terms describing the information in the 2015 Food and Agriculture Sector Specific Plan’s Data Taxonomy (catagories) can be found HERE.
- California Farm Bureau’s interpretation of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-33-20:
“Agriculture has been deemed one of 16 ‘critical infrastructure.’ For the purpose of broadly defining this infrastructure, it includes but is not limited to establishments engaged in growing crops, including nurseries and garden centers and cut flowers, raising animals, harvesting timber, and harvesting fish and other animals; food and beverage processors and manufacturers, wholesale and retailers distributing to consumers. The President of the United States made it clear in his March 16th directive that people working in critical industries such as food supply have a ‘special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. Anyone working in the “Food Supply Chain’ is allowed and should continue to show up for work.”
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an operational component under Department of Homeland Security, has listed Food & Agriculture has one of “16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors” here (https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19)
- While California Farm Bureau continues to work with state and local law enforcement on implementation of critical infrastructure employees, many employers have asked for a Farm Employee Permitted Travel Critical Infrastructure Letter. It can be downloaded here (English & Spanish).
- (3/29/2020) UPDATED DHS’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Advisory Memorandum on Coronavirus Guidance for America that highlighted the importance of the critical infrastructure workforce. This update is from a request for clarity for those covered under two designations within the Food & Agriculture Sector of critical infrastructure:
- Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids.
- Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution.
Wage & Hour, Leaves Issues:
- U.S. Department of Labor has released its first round of guidance on implementation of H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Guidance includes: (1) Guidance for Employees; (2) Guidance for Employers and (3) Questions and Answers (3/25/2020)
Some key take-aways so far: (1)Implementation begins April 1, 2020 (not April 2, and widely reported previously); (2) Your head count to determine of your level of employment is less than 500 employees (HR 6201 applies to employers of 500 or fewer) you count your employee number as of the day an employee takes leave, including employees already on leave (see Questions and Answers); (3) No guidance has (yet) been provided for determining how an employer of 50 or fewer might be able to claim an exemption on the basis that H.R. 6201 compliance will endanger the viability of their business.
- NEW PRINT & POST: U.S. Department of Labor has released its employer workplace information poster on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201). If you employee fewer than 500 employees and are covered by the FFCRA leaves requirements. Post as soon as possible next to other workplace postings. (3/25/2020)
- California Farm Bureau bullet point list of Families First Coronavirus Response Act requirements and eligible employees .
- NEW (from California Farm Bureau’s Farm Employers Labor Services legal services partner Barsamian & Moody): Coronavirus — School and Child-Care Closure Issues
- California Employment Development Department, Coronavirus 2019: information on availability of unemployment insurance, disability insurance and paid family leave
- California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement: COVID-19 FAQ on Laws Enforced by the California Labor Commissioner’s Office
- President has signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), requiring employers of 500 or fewer to provide family and medical leave and paid sick leave, as well as providing tax credits to defray the cost of these mandates; you can read more here.
Farmers’ Markets, Tasting Room, Farm Stand Guidance
- March 16, 2020, Guidance for restaurants, bars, wineries, food trucks, grocery stores and farmers markets to protect against the spread of COVID-19: State Health & Emergency Officials Release Guidance to Prevent the Transmission of COVID-19 in Food and Beverage Venues
- (4/15/2020) The Food Industry Association has developed a GUIDE for COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection for Human-Touch Surfaces. While the guide was created for grocery stores, it contains information that is suitable for all segments of the retail food industry.
- (5/11/2020) CDFA releases guidelines for farm “U-Pick”operations
- The Internal Revenue Service began providing details for taxpayers to defer their April 15 payments to July 15, offering relief to people who owe income taxes for 2019 or estimated income taxes for the first quarter of 2020. The official notice follows President Trump’s national-emergency declaration over the coronavirus outbreak and invokes powers usually used locally after natural disasters. The new IRS rules waive interest and penalties that normally would apply. However, the IRS isn’t changing the requirement that people file a tax return or seek a six-month extension by April 15. And the rules don’t apply to other taxes, such as estate taxes, excise taxes and payroll taxes that aren’t handled as part of self-employment income on individual tax returns. There are limits on the deferral. Individuals and married couples can defer up to $1 million in tax payments, and corporations can defer up to $10 million. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-17.pdf)
- Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payment Due to COVID-19 Outbreak: Following President Trump’s emergency declaration pursuant to the Stafford Act, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
- Employment Development Department (EDD) – Pay Roll Taxes: Employers statewide directly affected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit payroll taxes without penalty or interest. This extension may be granted under Section 1111.5 of the California Unemployment Insurance Code (CUIC). A written request for extension must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return. Information can be found by clicking this link: https://www.edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019.htm State payroll taxes include Unemployment Insurance (UI), Employment Training Tax (ETT), State Disability Insurance (SDI) (includes Paid Family Leave), and California Personal Income Tax (PIT). To request an extension, employers must send a letter to the EDD specifically requesting an extension of time under section 1111.5 of the CUIC, along with the previously unfiled report(s) and payment(s). The letter must also provide detailed information as to why the report or payment could not be submitted in a timely manner.Employers should mail the letter and tax report or payment to the address specified on their filing form. If an employer has already been charged a late filing or payment penalty that he/she believes may qualify for this extension, the employer should send a written request to:
Employment Development Department
PO Box 826880
Sacramento, CA 94280-0001
- The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) announcement of special tax relief for California taxpayers paying personal income and corporation taxes and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Affected taxpayers are granted an extension to file 2019 California tax returns and make certain payments until June 15, 2020, in line with Governor Newsom’s March 12 Executive Order.This relief includes moving the various tax filing and payment deadlines that occur on March 15, 2020, through June 15, 2020, to June 15, 2020. This includes:
- Partnerships and LLCs who are taxed as partnerships whose tax returns are due on March 15 now have a 90-day extension to file and pay by June 15.
- Individual filers whose tax returns are due on April 15 now have a 60-day extension to file and pay by June 15.
- Quarterly estimated tax payments due on April 15 now have a 60-day extension to pay by June 15.
- The FTB’s June 15 extended due date may be pushed back even further if the Internal Revenue Service grants a longer relief period.
Taxpayers claiming the special COVID-19 relief should write the name of the state of emergency (for example, COVID-19) in black ink at the top of the tax return to alert FTB of the special extension period. If taxpayers are e-filing, they should follow the software instructions to enter disaster information. The FTB will also waive interest and any late filing or late payment penalties that would otherwise apply. Additional information can be found by clicking this link: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/about-ftb/newsroom/covid-19/index.html?WT.ac=COVID-19
- (3/30/2020) Governor’s executive order allows the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to offer a 90-day extension for tax returns and tax payments for all businesses filing a return for less than $1 million in taxes. That means small businesses will have until the end of July to file their first-quarter returns. Additionally, the order extends the statute of limitations to file a claim for refund by 60 days to accommodate tax and fee payers.
- Local Tax Assistance: Some California counties are offering supplemental tax assistance specific to their individual county. The State Controller has noticed that while local Tax Collectors do not have the authority to waive the April 10th deadline for the Second Installment of Property Tax liabilities, they can waive interest or penalties for late payments. We encourage our local County Farm Bureau members to contact their local county tax offices for more information.
- (3/31/2020) The Treasury Department is delaying tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes, to provide flexibility for businesses that have been negatively affected by COVID-19. The postponement of due dates applies to any tax payment or operational report with an original due date falling on or after March 1, 2020, through July 1, 2020. Interest and penalties will not apply when payments are made within 90 days of the original due date. Read Press Release Here.
- California Association of Food Banks has created a document outlining federal tax deductions and state tax credits for food donations from farms. In California you can get a tax credit for 15% of the wholesale value. You can find more details HERE.
Banking & Finance
- USDA farm loan information and payments and view and tracking certain USDA program applications and payments can be viewed at Farmers.gov
- FSA is relaxing the loan-making process and changes to Farm Loan, Disaster, Conservation and Safety Net Programs. Press Release
- (3/30/2020) The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments (direct payments to eligible taxpayers) will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment. What you need to know.
- 3/31/2020 The Small Business Administration released rules for the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion forgivable loan program that is intended to help businesses, including farms and other agricultural employers, to rehire or retain workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Farms of all sizes will be eligible as well as other agricultural business. Under the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses with fewer than 500 employees may qualify for a loan up to $10 million based on their eight weeks of prior average payroll, plus an additional 25% of that amount. SBA will forgive the portion of the loan that is used for payroll costs, and loan payments won’t start for six months. The interest rate will be 0.5%. CFBF update on this program can be accessed here.
- (4/06/2020) SBA and Department of the Treasury document providing guidance on the interpretation of the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rule. It can be read HERE.
- (4/15/2020) SBA has released an additional PPP Interim Final Rule for sole proprietors. This IFR specifically addresses the following items: For Individuals With Self-Employment Income Who File a Form 1040, Schedule C; Clarification Regarding Eligible Business; Requirements for Certain Pledges of PPP Loans
- Find eligible SBA lenders here.
- (3/31/2020) Important Market Enforcement Branch information for producers if a contract has been cancelled or they have not been paid in full by vendors, as a result of COVID-19.
- (4/02/2020) The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, a refundable tax credit for 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. This credit was created by the CARES Act. An employer may not claim Employee Retention Credits if it receives a Small Business Interruption Loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.
- (4/02/2020) Governor Newsom announced $50 million available through California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (iBank) to fund small businesses that aren’t eligible under the federal programs—which would include some of agriculture. More information on the new funding is here https://www.ibank.ca.gov/small-business-finance-center/.
- (4/24/2020) President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266. This bill refunds the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program with $310 billion and $60 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). For the first time agriculture is eligible for the EIDL program. Applications will be accepted for either of these programs beginning on Monday, April 27,2020.
- Paycheck Protection Program application information can be found HERE. Updated as of April 24th, Frequently Asked Question on PPP
- EIDL program offers up to $2 million in assistance loans with a 3.75% rate. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. The loan advance will not have to be repaid. More information can be found HERE.
- (May 4, 2020) SBA said its EIDL portal is reopen as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation included $50 billion for the EIDL program and $10 billion for the EIDL Advance program. This is the first-time agricultural businesses have been eligible for this loan that can provide emergency working capital.
- (5/04/2020) USDA held a webinar with SBA officials concerning specific details for agricultural operations applying for the EIDL program. The slide presentation can be viewed HERE.
- (5/14/2020) USDA will soon begin taking applications for Direct Support for farmers and ranchers as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This program will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to producers to help offset impacts from the pandemic. As part of applying for the program, you’ll need to contact the Farm Service Agency county office at your local USDA Service Center to schedule an appointment. How to prepare now and how to apply once signups begin can be viewed HERE. For more information on the program and how to prepare, you can visit the USDA website at www.farmers.gov/cfap.
- (5/19/2020) USDA released the direct payment final rule for farmers and ranchers. CFBF Fact Sheet can be viewed HERE. Direct payments will total $16 billion. Farmers and producers will receive payments drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source of funding is $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act ($9.5 billion) and the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act ($6.5 billion). All producers listed under eligible commodities to reach out to their local FSA office and set up a phone appointment. Payments will not be made until all necessary eligibility documentation is received. Application forms can be found at: https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.
FAQ sheet: https://www.farmers.gov/sites/default/files/img/CFAP-FAQ-05182020.pdfFor additional questions, please contact your local FSA office: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ca&agency=fsa
- (5/22/2020) USDA issued a proposed rule requesting assistance for identifying additional commodities that should be eligible for CFAP (Direct) payments.Per the proposed rule, USDA will be receiving comments until June 22, 2020. As part of the comment for submission, USDA is looking for the following information:
- What commodities not currently listed in the CFAP direct payment final rule have suffered a 5% or greater price loss between January and April 2020 and face additional marketing costs due to COVID–19?
- What was the price received per unit of measure sold the week of January 13 through January 17, 2020, (or if not available, the nearest to this date) and what is the basis for the determination of this price?
- What was the price received per unit of measure sold the week of April 6 through April 10, 2020, (or if not available, the nearest date to this) and what is the basis for the determination of this price?
USDA is particularly interested in the obtaining information with respect to Nursery and Aquaculture Products. The proposed rule and more information can be found HERE.