COVID-19 Resources

We know that the spread of COVID-19 is bringing a lot of fear to our communities and interrupting sales during a vulnerable time of year. Things are changing rapidly, and we are here to support farms and other local businesses. We will add to this resource page as we discover new information—and please note that CISA is not a public health agency and won’t dispense recommendations about slowing or stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Contact CISA for support and promotion

Farmers and business owners, we want to hear from you! How is this affecting you, your employees, your sales? What sort of support do you need? Are you making changes to your business that we can help promote? If your business has developed a new sales outlet, (including online ordering and new delivery sites), or has closed, please let us know as we are sharing that information with the public here. Please get in touch with devon@buylocalfood.org, stevie@buylocalfood.org, or zoey@buylocalfood.org, or call the office at 413-665-7100. Staff is working remotely but will receive phone messages.

Resources

Resources

Resources for farms and food businesses

List of “essential services” that may continue operation during COVID-19 closures
This is the complete list of business and worker types in MA that are considered “essential” and thus are exempt from mandated COVID-19-related closures issued 3/23/20. Farms, food processors, and retail operations (including farm stands and farmers’ markets) are included on this list of “essential services” — these businesses are not required to close but are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health.

CISA’s examples of public-facing communications for small businesses
CISA staff have been gathering good examples of how restaurants, farmers’ markets, farmers, and other businesses have been communicating with customers as the situation evolves.

MDAR’s considerations for fruit and vegetable growers related to COVID-19
This memo from MDAR is intended to help guide the fruit and vegetable farming community and was produced in cooperation with Northeast Center for Advance Food Safety.

MDAR’s guidance for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSAs
This memo from MDAR recommends best practices for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and other local produce retail sites to limit the spread of COVID-19.

MDAR’s guidance for owners of livestock
This memo from MDAR indicates that there is currently no evidence that domestic animals can get or transmit COVID-19, though it states the importance of taking steps to prevent livestock from carrying infection from one person to another on their body.

Running a food business in the face of COVID-19
Compilation of resources available for HR, financial, and other aspects of your business that are impacted by COVID-19. Being continuously updated by the Commonwealth Kitchen.

Food facility COVID-19 strategy checklist
This document from Cornell’s Institute for Food Safety outlines a draft checklist on COVID-19 risk management strategy implementation for food companies. This is a guide only and any given business is strongly encouraged to modify this to fit their situation and circumstances.

Preparing your food operation for a coronavirus situation
This webpage from PA Extension lists action steps you can consider for preparing your farm or food business.

Resources for farmers' markets

MDAR’s guidance for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSAs
This memo from MDAR recommends best practices for farmers’ markets, farm stands, and other local produce retail sites to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Guidance from Mass Farmers’ Markets to market managers
Guidance on handling tokens, asserting welcoming values, policies for vendors, displays, and more.

Guidance from the Farmers’ Market Coalition
Market operators are developing communications, preparing contingency plans, and in some regions, beginning to modify operations and considering closures. This is a compilation of information and advice from farmers’ markets, state associations, health departments, and the Centers for Disease Control around the country. Note that much of the information is from other states and is not specific (or necessarily applicable) to Massachusetts.

Sanitation resources

NC State food safety webpage
How to manage risk in food environments such as restaurants, grocery stores and farms. These resources are based on guidance and best practices as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO.) Check back frequently for updates to the guidance.

EPA’s list of cleaning products that are effective in preventing COVID-19
A list of cleaning products that have been proven effective in killing the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

FDA’s guidance on food safety and COVID-19
This page answers several frequently asked questions about food handling considerations related to COVID-19 spread.

Cleaning and disinfection recommendations
CDC’s guidance on how to clean & disinfect various surfaces for coronavirus. Provides good bleach-dilution recommendations.

When and how to wash your hands
Guidance from the World Health Organization on thorough hand-washing. The CDC has a guide as well (though not as detailed).

Employee management resources

USDA’s page with updates on H-2A Visas
The USDA is sharing the latest updates and resources related to COVID-19 and the H-2A Visa Program here. This page includes information on embassy status in Jamaica and other H-2A sending countries, as well as links to information about workers in the U.S. on soon-to-expire H-2A contracts. Employers can use this information to identify H-2A workers who may soon be available to switch to a new employer, and can contact the former employer or attorney/agency who placed the expiring H-2A contract to discuss hiring options. It currently appears likely that H-2A visas for returning Jamaican workers will be processed by the embassy beginning April 1, 2020; visas for new workers are unlikely to be processed.

MDAR’s letter template to certify farm vehicles and suppliers as critical/essential
This letter template can be used (and modified as needed) to certify that vehicles transporting food and agricultural supplies are designated as critical infrastructure, and/or that employees are traveling to perform essential services. Note, however, that as of 3/25/20, state and local police departments have not been directed to do any traffic stops to limit non-essential travel, nor are letters such as these being required from employers.

Employer action steps for novel coronavirus prevention and control on farms
Helpful resource from Cornell Cooperative Extension on action steps to consider taking related to farm employee management (3/12/20).

OSHA’s guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19
These recommendations from OSHA are advisory in nature (they don’t create any new legal obligations) and they may provide helpful guidance to assist you in providing a safe and healthful workplace (3/20).

Multilingual resources on COVID-19
This webpage offers a wide assortment of resources about COVID-19 in many languages, which you may find of use in communicating information related to the novel coronavirus to your employees.

Economic assistance resources

CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund
CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund offers zero-interest loans of up to $5,000 to assist farms struggling to meet their immediate needs as a result of crisis events. The goal of this fund is to fill in critical gaps in available insurance and financing options. In April 2020, for the first time, CISA is opening the Emergency Farm Fund to support farms who are facing financial losses due to a non-weather-related event, the spread of COVID-19. Loan applications will be accepted from farms that operate in Franklin, Hampshire, or Hampden counties in Massachusetts, with gross annual sales for 2019 that were $20,000 or more. The Emergency Farm Fund will open for applications on April 1, 2020.

American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fund
The Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers — defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers’ markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or specialty producers. AFT envisions an initial application round extending until April 23, 2020 with grants to be awarded starting May 1, 2020.

Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program
Low-interest (up to 3.75%) working capital loans to help small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, aquaculture businesses, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations through the disaster recovery period. See a MA fact sheet on these loans here. Assistance in completing a loan application is available through the Franklin County CDC, SCORE, and other local organizations.

Community Foundation’s Pioneer Valley COVID-19 Response Fund for nonprofits
These grants provide funding for nonprofit organizations working to address food insecurity and other crucial needs that are experiencing operating issues due the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Fair Wage support fund for tipped and service workers
This campaign is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, delivery workers, and more who need emergency funds.

Restaurant Strong Fund
This fund offers $1,000 grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts who are dependent on wages plus tips to cover basic living expenses and provide for their families, and have been impacted by COVID-19 closures.

CISA’s tipsheet on grants and financing opportunities for farms
This page provides a comprehensive list of the grant and financing opportunities for farms that do not specifically relate to the current public health crisis. Many MDAR grants are currently open for applications – contact Kristen at CISA if you would like help understanding or applying for any of these grants.

Online sales resources

List of online direct sales platforms
This page from the National Young Farmers Coalition lists online direct sales platforms, along with key features and pricing information.

General COVID-19 information

CDC frequently asked questions page
Information on how COVID-19 basics, how it spreads, and how to protect yourself. This page also includes the CDC’s position on face masks.

Partner organizations' resource lists

MA Department of Agricultural Resources’ list of COVID-19 resources for agriculture
In response to COVID-19 and the measures being taken to address it, MDAR has compiled a list of resources to keep our agricultural community informed and aware of relevant policies and best practices.

COVID-19 food industry resources from Cornell’s Institute for Food Safety
This page provides useful links to a wide range of expert resources to help address specific questions around the risks associated with food production and the risks posed to employees relating to COVID-19.

Massachusetts Food System Collaborative’s list of resources
Frequently updated list of content that includes guidance and recommendations for farmers, market managers, and business owners, as well as information on local and national policy/advocacy efforts.

MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s resources on protecting families and communities
This page includes public health resources in multiple languages that can be shared with immigrant and refugee families; relevant information on immigration policy and enforcement; and other valuable resources, including details on key programs that sick or displaced workers may need.

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s COVID-19 resources for farm and food businesses
This Google doc has a compilation of resources related to the novel coronavirus, including general resources about the evolving health crisis, a list of online ordering platforms, and more.

Cornell Small Farms Program’s resources for building farm resilience to COVID-19
This page is regular updated with resources that offer ideas on how we can take care of ourselves, our farms, and our local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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