The national COVID-19 emergency is having deep impacts on our farming community, and we are working on ways to help. Please watch this page for information and resources that can help farmers, farmers markets, food and farm workers, and consumers navigate this unprecedented challenge.
View this week’s COVID Resilience Resources Weekly Update—Volume 15, July 6
OEFFA Operations and Certification Services
OEFFA remains open for business, albeit with some changes. For the foreseeable future, all events, including the annual Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series, have been cancelled or moved online.
We are responding to emails, receiving your 2020 applications for certification, and maintaining other functions. We are working to develop a contingency plan for organic inspections during a pandemic.
Direct calls regarding Certification to (614) 262-2022. All other calls should go to (614) 421-2022. If you are calling an individual staff member, you can find their direct line in our staff directory here.
For a more detailed update on OEFFA’s operations and certification services, read this announcement from March 23, 2020.
USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
Update: see the USDA’s July 9th press release for a list of additional eligible commodities and commodities no longer eligible.
The USDA is now accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to cover COVID-19 related losses. Details on how to apply and the necessary forms are available on the USDA’s CFAP website. The Farm Service Agency will distribute these funds on a first come, first served basis, so contact them immediately if you are interested, and document all outreach efforts. It is anticipated that appointments will be scheduled three to five weeks out, so it’s important to reach out to your local FSA county office now. Initial program assessment finds grain and dairy operators (organic or not) will particularly benefit. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s May 22 blog is a good guide, and look for additional information from OEFFA. Let us know if you need help, and we’d also like to know what your experience was when you applied for support.
FSA Expands Set-Aside Loan Provision for Customers Impacted by COVID-19
As of May 21st, If you have an FSA loan and have seen your farm negatively affected by COVID-19 you can request to have your next loan payment set-aside. For more details, please read the FSA’s press release and contact your local FSA county office.
Apply for Farm Disaster Assistance
Small farms can apply for another set of federal disaster loans under a new deal reached April 21. The agreement allows agricultural operations with fewer than 500 employees to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which offers up to $10,000 to businesses that are losing revenue amid the pandemic. Although SBA is currently processing a backlog of EIDL applications and not accepting new ones, you may still be able to prepare your documentation for when and if the program opens again. Learn more and apply for EIDL.
IMPORTANT: August 8 is now the last day to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. Read OEFFA’s April 13 Farm Policy Matters blog post for more information about PPP and how to apply. If you have questions about staying eligible for loan forgiveness, see this Farm Commons webinar. Contact your usual lender immediately if you are interested.
To contact the SBA with questions, you can call their disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail email@example.com.
Take Action: Tell the USDA to Do Better
The USDA is preparing to distribute $16 billion in direct aid to farmers who have experienced financial losses due to COVID-19, but the family farmers feeding our communities may not see any of it. Tell the USDA they need to do better.
- Go to the Department of Health’s Responsible RestartOhio page for the latest on the state’s gradual re-opening.
- They have industry specific guidance for retail, food service, and county fairs.
- The Ohio Department of Health keeps an updated archive of all their COVID-19 related public health orders here.
Marketing and Farmers’ Market Resources
- Good Earth Guide—All sustainable and organic farms and food businesses can create free listings in this online directory.
- Farmers’ Market Coalition—This national network is providing daily updates compiling best practices for markets.
- Ohio Farmers’ Market Network—This network provides support and resources for market managers and market vendors. Follow them on Facebook.
- COVID-19 and Your Farmers’ Markets—Ohio Farmers Market Network has posted it’s recommendations for operating farmers’ markets safely. They also compiled COVID-19 Operational Response for Farmers’ Markets as a supporting document with pictures of examples used by other markets.
- Produce Perks Midwest—Produce Perks is working to keep SNAP accessible as farmers and markets find ways to operate under social distancing and the state adjusts to new flexibility from Congress.
- COVID-19 FAQ for Farmers’ Markets—North Carolina State University has released guidance for farmers markets.
- Local Food Anywhere—Forager built an online interactive map to help people find farms in their area. Follow the link to add your farm.
Community Supported Agriculture Resources
- Good Earth Guide—Find OEFFA member farms, CSAs, and food businesses in your area, or list your operation.
- Local Harvest—Find local farms and CSAs, or list your business.
- Small Farm Central CSA Directory—Find CSAs in your area, or list your business.
- National CSA Directory—Modern Farmer is creating a national list of CSAs which farmers can be listed in and customers can search.
- CSA Innovation Network—This network has crowd-sourced a Google Doc for COVID-19 response resources for CSAs.
Farm Labor Resources
- H2-A Visa Program—Find news and resources for employers of H2-A agricultural workers. As of March 26, 2020, the State Department has loosened interview requirements for H2-A applicants.
- Guidance on Preparing Your Workplace for COVID-19—OSHA has published a guide for workplaces to function safely.
- Template In-Transit Letter for Agriculture Employees—This is a template letter agricultural businesses and employees can edit, print, and carry while driving and engaged in business during Ohio’s Stay at Home order.
- Seasonal Farm Jobs—If you’re looking for labor, this is a free listing service for seasonal farm job seekers and host farmers using sustainable growing practices.
- The COVID-19 Crisis: Planning for Extra Care on Your Small/Mid-Sized Farm—The Agricultural Justice Project offers recommendations on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for your employees.
- Best Management Practices for Vegetable Producers—Penn State has a detailed set of recommendations for minimizing risk on vegetable farms.
- New Federal Employee Leave Rules —Cornell has a helpful analysis of the employee leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Ohio State’s Farm office also recently posted guidance.
- Farmers Might Qualify for Unemployment Benefits–OSU’s Peggy Hall breaks down the Pandemic Unemployment Program for Ohio’s farmers, who may be eligible to receive benefits.
- Farm Commons COVID-19 Resources—Farm Commons has a number of free resources exploring legal considerations brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
- SBA Loan Programs—The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog gives a useful summary of both the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the surrounding issues.
- Archived Webinar on Economic Injury Disaster Loans—Farm Commons has made this recorded EIDL webinar available.
- Payroll Protection Program Loans—Cornell University, University of Wisconsin, and the Farm Bureau each have overviews of the PPP and how it relates to agriculture.
- Farmers Guide to COVID-19 Relief—The Farmers Legal Action Group have developed information on PPP, EIDL, unemployment insurance, foreclosure moratoriums, and more.
- Legal Resources For Farmers—The Legal Food Hub is a free legal services clearinghouse for farmers, food entrepreneurs, and related organizations.
Online Sales Resources
- Online Platform Comparison Chart—This SARE-funded research compares the cost, service, and experience of various online sales platforms.
- Online Sales Platforms For Farmers Webinar—Oregon Tilth hosted a webinar featuring sales representatives from Barn2Door, Harvie, Local Food Marketplace, and Open Food Network.
- Buckeye Harvest Market
- Google Sheets
- Local Line
- Market Link
- Market Wagon
- Online Farmers Markets
- Open Food Network
- RoadWarrior Route Planner
- Yellow Bird Foodshed
- Kiva—Kiva is a nonprofit micro-lending service that helps farmers crowdfund projects and receive loans up to $15,000 at no interest. As a Kiva Trustee, OEFFA can endorse your loan request and help guide you through the process.
- Resilience Fund—Rural Action and several partners in Ohio and West Virginia have started a fund to offer rapid-response grants to businesses and nonprofits facing serious economic challenges in Appalachian Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Valley counties of West Virginia.
- August 8 is the deadline to apply for A Payroll Protection Program Loan—University of Wisconsin has an updated overview of the PPP and EIDL and how it relates to agriculture. See this Farm Commons webinar for guidance on loan forgiveness eligibility.
- What are Payroll Costs?—This blog helps clarify what you do, and do not need to calculate as payroll costs when applying for PPP.
- StarkFresh Crowd-Funded Relief Loan—StarkFresh has partnered with Honeycomb Credit to provide $10,000-$25,000 working capital loans to farmers.
- Opportunity in a Time of Crisis Report—On June 30, OEFFA, the Ohio Farmers’ Market Network, the Ohio Food Policy Network, and Produce Perks Midwest released an 18-page report identifying missing links and opportunities in our local and regional food system that were exposed by COVID-19, along with eight policy recommendations Ohio’s decision-makers can implement to invest in the long-term capacity of Ohio’s farmers and farmers markets and build food security for vulnerable families.
- Joint State Policy Recommendations—On April 2, OEFFA, the Ohio Farmers’ Market Network, the Ohio Food Policy Network, and Produce Perks Midwest called on state leaders to adopt six policies that help farmers, farmers’ markets, and low income food access.
- State Policy Recommendations—OEFFA submitted these policy recommendations to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Governor on March 23, 2020.
- Farm Policy Matters Blog—Watch OEFFA’s policy blog for updates on state and federal policy affecting farmers, farmers’ markets, and aid for impacted businesses.
- Farm Policy Matters Resources for Action—Find recent action alerts and resources for taking action on the issues you care about.
- Action Alert: Tell the USDA to Do Better— The USDA is preparing to distribute $16 billion in direct aid to farmers who have experienced financial losses due to COVID-19, but the family farmers feeding our communities may not see any of it. Tell the USDA they need to do better.
- Action Alert: Tell Governor DeWine to Support Farmers, Farmers’ Markets, and Food Access During COVID-19—Ask Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to act now to protect small and mid-size farmers, farmers’ markets, and families who rely on nutrition assistance by adopting six important policies backed by Ohio’s food and farm organizations.
- National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition—OEFFA’s national partner offers regular COVID-19 updates, federal policy analysis, and action opportunities.
- What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means for SNAP—The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details the added flexibility Congress has provided the states for managing SNAP during the crisis.
- House Ag Committee COVID-19 Resources—Helpful Resources for Food and Agriculture from the house ag committee and various federal agencies.
- Stress and Mental Health Resources—Find resources for managing your mental health or if you’re in crisis during this stressful time.
- Health Insurance Options For Farm Families—Farmers who lost health insurance because a spouse lost a job may qualify to purchase coverage through Healthcare.gov outside of the open enrollment period.
- CDC COVID-19 Website—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention post up-to-date information and disease guidance.
- Ohio Department of Health—This page contains regular updates, guidance, and statistics.
- Four Ways to Support Family Farmers—Continue to support farmers during this difficult time by signing up for a CSA (see above), shopping farms and food businesses online, shopping local retailers and farm stands, or by contacting your farmer.
- Resilience Fund—Rural Action and several partners in Ohio and West Virginia have started a fund to offer rapid-response grants to businesses and nonprofits facing serious economic challenges in Appalachian Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Valley counties of West Virginia. The fund is currently accepting donations.
- USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program—The USDA begins taking applications for CFAP payments on May 26.
- USDA COVID-19 website—Find the latest news from the USDA on COVID-19.
- USDA Rural Development COVID-19 Response—Find the latest news from USDA Rural Development on COVID-19. Rural Development has also published a COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide.
- USDA Crop Insurance Flexibility—The USDA’s Risk Management Agency’s press release announces new flexibility for crop insurance to assist farmers and ranchers.
- Farm Loan, Disaster, Conservation and Safety Net Programs—The USDA Farm Service Agency’s press release includes updates on changes to their operations and policies in response to COVID-19.
- USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program Contract Awards—The USDA is partnering with regional and local distributors to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat, box those items into “shares” for individual families, and distribute them through foodbanks and other nonprofits.
- COVID-19 Hub—OSU has launched a comprehensive hub for all of their resources on their Knowledge Exchange.
- OSU Farm Office—OSU’s Farm Office team has a number of COVID-19 resources related to legal considerations and government support programs.
- OSU Extension COVID-19 Resource Page—OSU will be posting resources on food safety and more.
- OSU Extension COVID-19 Factsheets—OSU’s Produce Safety Team has compiled factsheets on produce safety, community health, and best practices for markets, restaurants, and foodbanks.
- OSU Ag Madness—Look for archived webinars on a variety of agriculture-related topics.
- COVID-19 Resources for Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers—University of Vermont is updating it’s list of useful resources, many of which are nationally relevant.
- Resources for Farmers Affected by COVID-19—Farm AID has a long list of resources available on their blog.
- Building Farm Resilience in this Crisis—This compilation of resources from Cornell’s Small Farms Program includes a thoughtful post with recommendations on building resilience and nourishing inspiration.
- The Wallace Center Resource List—The Wallace Center is keeping a Google sheet of resources.
- Central Appalachian Network Resource List—CAN has linked to a number of resources for individuals and businesses ranging from farmers, to small businesses, to nonprofits, to artists in Appalachian Ohio and other Appalachian states.
- Eco Farm’s Resource List—Eco Farm is hosting weekly webinars on Wednesdays in April.
- Farm Answers COVID-19 Library—Farm Answers has a library specifically for practical COVID-19 resources.
- Food and COVID-19—foodTBD started an online network for exchanging and discussing COVID-19 resources.
We’re here to help. Call (614) 421-2022, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact one of our staff members if we can be of assistance.
Donate or Become a Member
During this difficult time, OEFFA is responding to the new and urgent challenges faced by family farmers. If you find value in these resources and OEFFA’s work, and you’re able to afford it, please consider making a donation or becoming a member, so we can continue to help others. Together, we’ll get through this and grow.