Farmer Resources

Producer Resources Related to the Coronavirus COVID-19

Virginia Farm Bureau remains committed to providing our producer members and all Virginia farmers with timely and relevant information related to farm operations during this public health challenge.

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Auto Policy Credit and Customer Support

To assist our customers during this difficult time, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. is refunding a portion of personal auto policy premiums for the months of April and May. Learn More

Updated May 21, 2020

Virginia Farm Bureau has been working closely with the state’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, state forester, and leadership within Virginia Cooperative Extension, as well as with many other ag and forestry organizations to determine producers’ needs and share relevant information.

VFB COVID-19 Survey Follow-up

Thank you to all members who took the Virginia Farm Bureau COVID-19 survey that was distributed in March.

As the situation continues to evolve, we are asking you to complete a brief follow-up survey to help us identify and address the most current issues you are facing.

Click here for survey.

Members can receive Action Alerts

Farm Bureau producer members can receive emailed Action Alerts as new information becomes available. If you are not already signed up for Action Alerts, you may use the online form on this site to sign up today.

Virginia Farm Bureau

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation board members joined American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall at the White House Tuesday to talk about the importance of federal aid for farmers. Read VFBF National Affairs Coordinator Ben Rowe’s first-hand account here.

Virginia Farm Bureau proudly supports farmers, and has created a video to highlight that support.

March 23, 2020 – Statement from VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor

March 19, 2020 – Support for COVID-19-impacted businesses announced

March 19, 2020 – Coronavirus highlights ongoing need for rural broadband access

American Farm Bureau response

A new AFBF video released on social media Monday as part of the #StillFarming campaign highlights the efforts of everyone on the front lines during these challenging and uncertain times.

Watch American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall's interview with Fox Business April 17 discussing how coronavirus is challenging farmers, trade with China and reopening the economy.

April 1, 2020 - Yes, There are COVID-19 Impacts on Agriculture

March 18, 2020 – AFBF highlights immediate challenges facing agriculture sector

March 17, 2020 – Statement from AFBF President Zippy Duvall

Updated July 31, 2020

New Statewide Emergency Workplace Safety Standards

In July, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board approved statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Virginia is the first state in the nation to adopt this type of standard, which will mandate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across the commonwealth. In many cases, the new standard exceeds current federal guidance from the CDC as well as other state agencies.

The newly adopted standards, which were published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch July 27, require all employers to mandate social distancing measures and face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions and, when social distancing is not possible, provide frequent access to hand washing or hand sanitizer, and regularly clean high-contact surfaces. In addition, new standards require that all employees be notified within 24 hours if a coworker tests positive for the virus. Employees who are known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 cannot return to work for 10 days or until they receive two consecutive negative tests. Employers shall notify the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry within 24 hours of the discovery of three (3) or more employees present at the place of employment within a 14-day period testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus during that 14-day time period.

It is imperative that you understand the standards and ensure compliance on your farm or agribusiness. The rule is effective immediately; however, the training requirements go in to effect August 26, 2020, and the deadline for preparation of an infectious disease preparedness and response plan takes effect on September 25, 2020. The rules will last at least six months, with the possibility for permanent adoption. You can find the Nine Steps to Achieve Compliance here.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Safety Regulation Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Safety Regulations Training Presentation

Infection Disease Plan Template

Hazard Assessment Certificate Instructions

Training Certification Template

Training Guidance for Lower Risk Level Workplaces

The emergency temporary standards, infectious disease preparedness and response plan templates, and training guidance will be posted on the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry website.

Virginia Agricultural Workers

Q. Is there any guidance on providing farm worker training?

A. Here is a link to some suggestions: Guidance to use with farm employees

Q. Where can I get CDC suggested posters and other print materials?

A. The CDC has provided posters and other print materials highlighting best practices for farm and farm worker safety. Please note that if you do not have print capabilities at home to make these posters visible to farm workers as reminders, you can contact your local extension agent and they can arrange to have them printed. They will need to know which specific posters you would like, and whether you need it in English, Spanish or both.

Q: Do Virginia agriculture workers need to carry letters to get to work in Virginia?

A: Many states have started to require/issue letters indicating the holder is part of an essential industry/enterprise or government service, and therefore able to move freely to conduct business. Currently in Virginia the primary focus is on limiting non-essential retail and recreational and entertainment businesses. Consequently, there are no restrictions on enterprises that are not deemed non-essential from performing job duties and traveling to and from jobs. Therefore, it is not necessary to have such a letter of authorization to be developed and provided. If the governor does enact further restrictions, new guidance will be provided. Entities operating across state lines should seek guidance from the other states within which they are doing business.

Q. Have the Virginia State Police offered any guidance on workers carrying letters?

On April 1, the Virginia State Police released this press release, which indicates the Virginia State Police are not randomly stopping drivers to question their purpose for traveling. They do advise that you should check the laws of other states to which you are traveling, and follow the guidance from that state.

Q. Do farm workers or farmers need to carry letters in their vehicle while traveling in North Carolina for a farm job or other farm-related needs?

A. The North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture has recommended that farm workers and farmers who have to travel in North Carolina for a farm job or other farm-related need carry letters.

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services notice of essential food and agricultural employees.

Q. Do farm workers or farmers need to carry letters in their vehicle while traveling to Maryland for a farm job or other farm-related needs?

A. Governor Hogan’s legal counsel has recommended that carrying a letter would help with enforcement of the stay-at-home order issued on March 30. The Maryland Farm Bureau worked with the Maryland governor’s office and their land-grant university to create two different versions of a letter for farmers to use. We were advised that a Virginia farm employee traveling in Maryland was stopped by Maryland State Police.

Maryland essential food and agricultural independent contractor work permit.

Maryland essential food and agricultural employee work permit.

Resources for H-2A labor sharing and transfer

In response to COVID-19 disruptions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Labor announced a partnership to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers who may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural employers.

USDA and DOL have identified approximately 20,000 H-2A- and H-2B-certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. Workers leaving these positions could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. The data, available at farmers.gov/manage/h2a, includes the number of certified worker positions, the current employer name and contact, attorney/agent name and contact, and the worksite address. This information will be a resource to H-2A employers whose workforces have been delayed because of travel restrictions or visa processing limitations.

Employers should be aware that all statutory and regulatory requirements continue to apply. Employers are encouraged to monitor travel.state.gov for the latest information and should monitor the relevant embassy/consular websites for specific operational information.

Contact USDA with questions

The USDA has established aglabor@usda.gov as an e-mail contact points for agricultural producers to use when encountering challenges related to agriculture labor visas.

General overview

In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State temporarily suspended routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates as of March 20, 2020. At first, these consulates were prioritizing interview waiver eligible cases. Previous requirements stated that H-2A applicants were only interview waiver eligible if their visa had expired in the last 12 months and they had not used an interview waiver previously.

In an update to the initial policy, The State Department has now authorized officers to expand the categories of H-2A visa applicants eligible to waive an in-person interview. Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2A visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.

Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2A applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. This expansion also increases the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months, and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa. The State Department anticipates the vast majority of otherwise qualified H-2A applicants will now be adjudicated without an interview.

This announcement indicates more H-2A visas will now be considered interview waiver eligible, allowing for increased workforce access. Here is a FAQ document regarding this announcement.

The USDA has established a website with H-2A information at farmers.gov/manage/h2a, and questions regarding H-2A challenges can be sent to aglabor@usda.gov.

As this situation continues to develop, please keep an eye out for updates from Farm Bureau, and do not hesitate to be in touch with questions. Feel free to share this with your counterparts and partner organizations.

Workplace Safety

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have resources to help employers and workers prepare for, and respond to, coronavirus in the workplace.

Foreign labor certification

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19

Q. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, can I use alternative housing that was not initially disclosed in the H-2A job order, or modify existing housing, as a temporary measure to promote social distancing or during a quarantine period?

A. OFLC states that this is understandable due to social distancing recommendations, and many employers will need to add to their existing camp capacity. In the event an employer needs to use additional housing (such as a hotel/motel or a newly permitted labor camp) they should begin by notifying their local health department and the Virginia Employment Commission. The VEC contact person is Cynthia Webb and can be contacted using the information below, or send an email to foreignlaborcert@vec.virginia.gov. The new housing needs to meet applicable standards and be permitted as a migrant labor camp unless it is commercially available rental housing or a hotel/motel that will be offered to migrant workers under the same terms it is available for use by the public.

Cindy Webb
Agriculture & Foreign Labor Certification Manager
Virginia Employment
19 N. Cameron St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Office: 540-722-3406
Cell: 540-431-9296

Supporting workforce needs in the agricultural sector

The U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a partnership to facilitate the identification of domestic and foreign workers that may be available to fulfill critical U.S. agricultural sector workforce needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia Unemployment Insurance Program

Wages, hours and leave

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Updated Sept. 14, 2020

As agriculture has been designated an essential industry during the response to COVID-19, a number of exemptions or relaxing of regulations have been put in place by both the state and federal government.

It is crucial that our nation’s farmers have the supplies they need and an efficient pipeline to get products to access points so consumers can feed their families.

As with every sector during these challenging times, things are changing rapidly. Below are some resources to review to help make sure you know of any restrictions or exemptions that apply in hauling agricultural products and supplies. We have tried to link pages we feel will be updated as things change.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

An extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 has been granted, which provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19. It is limited to transportation of (1) livestock and livestock feed; (2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; and (3) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. FMCSA has concluded that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to the other categories of supplies, equipment and persons covered by the May 13 extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, and those categories are therefore no longer covered.

The guidance on the webpage is adjusted accordingly, and specifically notes that precursor items are not included for those items covered by this declaration. The amended extension now expires Dec. 31, 2020, subject to the restrictions and limitations set forth in the latest Extension.

A few FAQ related to agriculture are here, but make sure you check the complete FMCSA FAQ page linked above.

Q: Are loads that include supplies related to direct assistance under the emergency declaration mixed with other, un-related materials covered under the declaration?

A: Generally, yes; however, mixed loads with only a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration are not covered.

Q: Are livestock a covered commodity under the terms of the emergency declaration?

A: Yes, livestock are covered as a precursor to food. The emergency declaration covers “immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items including food needed for the emergency restocking of stores.

Q: Is the driver required to use a paper logbook or ELD?

A: No, the emergency exemption includes relief from all the hours-of service regulations in 49 CFR part 395, including the recordkeeping requirements (i.e., records of duty status (RODS).

Q: What documentation is needed to verify that the driver is operating under the exemption?

A: There is no specific documentation required for verification. Retention of ordinary business records, such as the bill of lading, may be useful later for the convenience of the motor carrier and driver, to document use of the exemption during a future inspection or enforcement action.

Also: FMCSA issues guidance document that provides clarity to DOT-regulated employers, employees and service agents on conducting DOT drug-and-alcohol testing given concerns about COVID-19.

Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 Under 49 Cfr § 390.25

Emergency Declarations, Waivers, Exemptions and Permits

DMV and VDOT

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, along with the Department of Transportation has authorized a temporary waiver of registration and licensing requirements for carriers, and the commissioner of highways authorizes a temporary waiver of normal weight and width restrictions on roads controlled by VDOT, for the express purpose of ensuring that emergency essential supplies and services reach impacted areas in timely manner.

It’s important to remember weight exemptions are not valid on posted structures for restricted weight. Also note, as in the case of the FMCSA exemptions, the DMV/VDOT exemption shall not exceed the duration of the motor carrier's or driver’s direct assistance in providing emergency relief, or 30 days from the initial declaration of emergency, whichever is less. View waiver

DMV response to COVID-19:

Beginning May 18, 2020, certain DMV offices will reopen for specific services by appointment only as part of a phased reopening plan. Please visit dmvnow.com/reopening for more information.

To help reduce risk as people return to our offices, DMV continue to encourage employees and customers to follow the recommendations of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health in regards to personal health and social distancing.

Credential Extensions:

Driver’s License/ID card and Vehicle Registration

The validity of every driver, vehicle, special identification and driver credential due to expire on or before July 31, 2020, is extended for up to an additional 90 days not to exceed October 31, 2020. This extension is in addition to the prior extension of up to 90 days not to exceed August 31, 2020.

The following are examples:

  • March 15 and April 30: A customer whose credential expired between these dates will have an additional 90 days added to the prior 90 days, effectively 180 days, beyond the expiration date to renew.
  • May 1 and July 31: Those with credentials expiring between these dates will have up to 180 days beyond the expiration date, not to exceed October 31, 2020.
  • After July 31: If a credential expires after July 31, it must be renewed before its expiration date.

Vehicle registrations expiring March-July are extended for up to 180 days, not to exceed October 31, 2020.

All renewal fees (driver's license, identification card and vehicle registration) will remain the same and no late fees will be assessed for customers who renew during the extension period. The month in which your new credential expires will also not change from the original date of expiration. For example, a customer with a vehicle registration originally expiring in April 2020 will have until October 2020 to renew, and the new credential will be valid until April 2021. Virginians eligible to renew their licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registration online are encouraged to take advantage of those services. Mail-in options are also available for a number of transactions, such as vehicle registration, original title transactions, and driver's license renewal, if mailed a notice.

Intrastate Operating Authority

DMV is offering relief to motor carriers who wish to temporarily cease operations and cancel motor vehicle liability insurance due to the impact of COVID-19 and still keep their operating authority. In order to obtain this relief, you must agree to authorize DMV to deactivate all for-hire designated vehicle registrations associated with your operating authority. Once its registration has been deactivated, a vehicle may not be lawfully driven on Virginia highways. For further information, please contact DMV Motor Carrier Services at mcsonline@dmv.virginia.gov.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission (WMATC) Annual Report Extension

WMATC has issued an Order granting a deadline extension for the filing of annual reports and associated fees from May 1, 2020 to August 1, 2020. In addition, carriers voluntarily terminating their WMATC authority in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 will be granted a waiver of the application fee upon resuming business as long as the application is submitted on or before February 28, 2021 and the carrier is filing as the exact same legal entity. You may view the Order here. For further details, contact WMATC at 301-588-5260 or visit their website at www.wmatc.gov to send a message by email.

Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a temporary exemption on the expiration of qualifying Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs). As a result, the expiration date of TWICs that expired on or after March 1, 2020 is extended by 180 days. The extension of the expiration date remains in effect through July 31, 2020 unless otherwise modified by TSA through notice published in the Federal Register.

Other Important Waivers

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles posts all emergency-related waivers to a central location. For information on important waivers related to COVID-19, please visit the Virginia DMV Waiver Library.

Review DMV’s complete information related to the COVID-19 response.

DMV/VDOT Waiver

https://www.vaemergency.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Transportation-Waiver-Virginia-8-14-20.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/#link.asp?4238

Virginia Department of Health

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/exec/#link.asp?4237

Vehicle Registration

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/#reg_mail.asp

Original Title Transactions

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/#titling.asp

Driver's License Renewal

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/#mail.asp

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s general resource page

Virginia Farm Bureau has a wealth of information on state and federal regulations for transportation and other issues related to running your farm.

Updated March 26, 2020

Q: Can I still apply for agriculture best management cost share for conservation practices on my farm?

A: Each soil and water conservation district is determining whether their offices are open to the public. Most are not open to general public. This does not mean that they can’t help farmers with applying for cos-share funding. A good practice would be to call your local soil and water conservation district and inquire how they are handling sign-ups. To find which district works with farmers in your locality, visit https://vaswcd.org/districts-by-countycity.

Q: Is our local soil and water conservation district board still meeting to approve applications?

A: Obviously, this situation is unprecedented. The leadership of the Virginia Association Soil and Water Conservation Districts is trying to get the best information possible from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the state attorney general’s office. Again, each district board is best determining how to operate. To find which district works with farmers in your locality, visit https://vaswcd.org/districts-by-countycity.

Q: Is the USDA NRCS still providing support for federal conservation programs?

A: Starting March 23, all NRCS offices will be closed to the public but remain open for staff to conduct business by email and phone, and online. Soil and water conservation districts that are co-located with NRCS may not receive clients in the office and must observe the same protocols.

When in the field, NRCS employees may interact with their clients using social distancing protocols but may not go into clients’ homes for meetings.

Updated May 22, 2020

Farmers Markets

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued guidance regarding Gov. Ralph Northam’s March 23 COVID-19 orders. Many of the VDACS guidance documents provide a reasonable amount of flexibility given the stated effort to avoid having groups of people congregate in close proximity.

Online and Alternative Markets

NEW WEBSITE UPDATES: Lulus Local Food is an eCommerce solution uniquely designed to take farmers markets, farms and farm stands online to reach retail customers. Lulus enables farmers, markets and food hubs to tailor customer orders, pick-up and delivery to suit most situations. The Lulus program provides online sales, inventory management, financial reporting and marketing to new customers. Nominal volume-based transaction fees apply. Contact Lulus at 804-980-1173, luluslocalfood@gmail.com or luluslocalfood.com. Lulus is a value-added agriculture program provided by the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation & Rural Development.

MarketMaker is a national network of states that connect farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs and consumers. Farmers can list their food goods, contact information and market hours and locations. For more information on how to list your farm products for free, visit ext.vt.edu/agriculture/market-maker.html.

Virginia Grown is not only a marketing program for foodstuffs raised in Virginia, but also a website where farmers, farmers markets, CSAs and others can list their food goods, contact information and market hours and locations. For more information on how to list your farm products for free, visit vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown.

Direct Market Resources

For important information regarding coronavirus, visit vdacs.virginia.gov/pdf/covid19.pdf

Questions regarding Food Safety and Inspection may be directed to the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Service. Please refer to the following subject links:

Virginia Cooperative Extension provides resources and information to help farmers, markets and consumers help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains List N, which includes products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. Refer to epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2 for the current list of products EPA has reviewed and approved. Additional products may be included by EPA to List N. This list includes product name, EPA registration number, manufacturer and application method.

Livestock Markets

Beginning Friday, April 24, 2020, Virginia Cooperative Extension will host Virginia Tech Livestock Update Webinar Series, a bi-weekly series of livestock marketing and production considerations for producers dealing with COVID-19 impacts. Get more information.

Many livestock markets are temporarily modifying their weekly auction schedule in the wake of COVID-19. Please contact your local auction market regarding their sale schedules and market requirements.

On May 18, 2020 Virginia Farm Bureau hosted a WebEx for producers to learn more about current livestock market conditions and what is expected in the coming months. A recording of the education portion of the program can be found here.

Contact information for livestock auction markets can be found here.

For private seed stock sales, please contact the farm or livestock dealer directly for details.

Updated Sept. 21, 2020

Refer to the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide for USDA’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide listing federal programs that can help farmers, rural residents, communities and others affected by COVID-19.

Refer to farmers.gov/coronavirus for general information regarding service center operations and closures, and answers to frequently asked questions.

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP2)

USDA has announced up to an additional $14 billion dollars for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP2, will begin September 21 and run through December 11, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers.

Producers can apply for CFAP2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities—Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-Rate Crops and Sales Commodities.

Price Trigger Commodities

Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5% price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85% of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75% of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31, 2020. The milk production for Sept. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, will be estimated by FSA.

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between April 16, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2020.

Flat-Rate Crops

Crops that either do not meet the 5% price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra-long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed and several others.

Sales Commodities

Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur, or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales.

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020, we encourage you to apply for CFAP2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Eligibility

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75% or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance

Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21, 2020. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated.

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

Farm Service Agency

(fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Virginia/index)

FSA makes changes to farm loan, disaster, conservation and safety net programs to make it easier for farm customers to conduct business.

Farm Service Agency issued the following notice on March 18, governing FSA office hours at local service centers: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USFSA/bulletins/281e885. Offices in Virginia can be expected to follow this procedure until further notice, subject to change as conditions evolve.

Farmers are encouraged to call their FSA offices prior to making an in-person visit, and make an appointment, as office hours and staffing levels may change. You may prefer to conduct your business with FSA by phone or mail or online.

If you are unsure of your FSA office location or contact information, refer to the office locator.

FSA will begin sign-up for the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program on March 23. Farms affected by excess moisture in 2018 may be eligible for WHIP payments, Producers without 2018 crop insurance or NAP documentation must document their affected 2018 crop production. Direct WHIP questions to your local office.

Natural Resources Conservation Service

(nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/va/home)

Refer to farmers.gov/coronavirus for general information regarding office operations.

Farmers are encouraged to call their NRCS office prior to making an in-person visit, and make an appointment, as office hours and staffing levels may change.

If you are unsure of your NRCS office location or contact information, refer to the office locator.

Risk Management Agency

(rma.usda.gov)

Crop Insurance Changes

Refer to farmers.gov/coronavirus for information on federal crop insurance deadline extensions and process allowances.

Rural Development

(rd.usda.gov/va)

Visit rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions and more.

Rural Development has announced additional immediate measures to help rural residents, businesses and communities with certain direct loans, guaranteed loans and the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. For details visit https://bit.ly/2XnCsus.

Stakeholder Notice – Remote Status, March 20, 2020:

Dear Rural Development Customers, Stakeholders, and Partners:

Rural Development in Virginia is working to ensure the safety, security, and health of the public and our employees while continuing to provide excellent customer service.

Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, we are now in enterprise-wide remote operational status. USDA Rural Development is open for business and looks forward to continuing our vital work supporting our customers who live and work in rural America.

The Virginia Rural Development team will continue delivering programs and offering the highest level of customer service. Customers and stakeholders can reach employees using the contact information below.

Thank you,

Rural Development Virginia

(Virginia Employee Directory)

Updated March 28, 2020

How are farm supply stores handling COVID-19?

This varies by company, but the majority seem to be open for business for the time being. As this could change rapidly, we urge you to check with your local store for the most current information on openings and procedures before visiting. Here are notes and links to several across the state:

Augusta Co-op (Website)

  • Early shopping time for seniors
  • Phone order/dock pick-up/delivery available

Culpeper Farmers’ Cooperative (Website)

  • Phone order/dock pick-up/delivery available
  • Hiring CDL drivers in Culpeper and Fauquier (good option for bus drivers who are out of work)

Rockingham Cooperative (Website)

  • Parking lot pick-up available

Rockbridge Farmers Co-op (Website)

  • Bulk propane, petroleum and fertilizer building closed
  • Open for business via phone and email

Orange Madison Cooperative (Website)

  • Retail stores open with precautions
  • Curbside service available
  • Corporate offices closed; account payments will be accepted by showroom staff
  • Bulk product delivery continuing with precautions
  • All interior services pertaining to energy are restricted to emergencies only, until further notice; exterior services offered as usual

Southern States (Website)

  • Open; call individual stores for details

Tractor Supply (Website)

James River Equipment (Website)

Hoober (Website)

  • Open; sales area closed to foot traffic; phone order/outside pick-up requested
  • Salesperson available outside for equipment purchase while social distancing
  • Salesperson available outside for equipment purchase while social distancing
  • Call individual stores for details

Carter Machinery (Website)

  • Open; showroom closed; phone order/dock pick-up available
  • Call individual stores for details

Is the Virginia Farm Bureau Products Division operational?

We are operating and open for business with some modifications. We have restricted access to the warehouse and ask that members and customers call to place an order. We will pull it and have it available at a bay door for pick-up.

Much of our product is shipped to various dealers, and we are continuing to ship product as usual. Our sales staff are not visiting dealers; rather, they are communicating by phone and email.

Call 800-476-8473 to place an order.

Updated June 23, 2020

For the latest information on the legal status of Dicamba, please visit plowsandpoliticAAs.com/2020/06/22/the-evolving-case-against-dicamba/.

EPA Statement on PPE for Pesticide Uses

On June 1, EPA issued a statement regarding respiratory protection shortages and reduced availability of respirator fit testing related to pesticide uses covered by the agricultural Worker Protection Standard during the COVID-19 public health emergency. EPA has heard from states and stakeholders about Personal Protective Equipment shortages in the agricultural sector. To respond to these reports and to help ensure the health and safety of America’s farmers, EPA is providing temporary guidance regarding respiratory protection requirements for agricultural pesticide handlers. Our guidance aligns with recent OSHA memos on respirators while addressing EPA’s responsibilities under FIFRA and the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Read the statement.

Here is a full list of EPA’s COVID-19 Enforcement and Compliance Resources.

Pesticide Certification

Always check the VDACS website for updated information.

Q. What do I do if my pesticide applicator certification is set to expire on June 30, 2020?

For 2020, the certification renewal date has been extended from June 30 to August 29, 2020. This extension will allow applicators an additional 60 days to take the recertification training required for renewal. Applicators may continue to apply pesticides between June 30 and August 29, however, all applicators must renew by midnight on August 29. Applicators who do not review by August 29 can not apply pesticides until they renew their certification. There is no additional grace period. In addition, applicators who do not renew their certification by August 29 will be required to renew by testing. Renewal notices will be mailed in the near future and applicators are encouraged to renew their certificates after they take the required recertification course. While the 2020 date for renewal has been extended to August 29, the expiration date of certificates renewed during 2020 will be June 30, 2022.

Q. What is the expiration date if I got an authorization letter as a prospective applicator to take the test to be certified?

All authorization letters for prospective applicators to take the exam(s) to become certified issued on or after December 20, 2019, will have their expiration dates extended to July 31, 2020 or the current date of expiration, whichever is greater. Prospective applicators that do not take the exam(s) by July 31, 2020 or the current date of expiration, whichever is greater, will be required to submit a new application with appropriate fees to take the exam(s).

Q. How can I take a recertification course if in-person classes are restricted or cancelled?

While some recertification courses have been cancelled or postponed, there are approved online recertification courses for the majority of categories. A list of approved recertification courses is available here.

Q. How do I renew my commercial pesticide applicator certification since DMV offices are closed?

A. The closure of DMV offices due to COVID-19 has eliminated an important testing option for many prospective pesticide applicators who are required to take pesticide applicator certification exams. As a result, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will offer in-person pesticide applicator certification testing for commercial applicators and registered technicians. The in-person testing will be held at predetermined locations and by invitation only to ensure adequate social distancing and no more than 10 individuals at each test site. For the scheduling of exams, the administration has determined that applicants involved in agriculture production or food processing (Categories, 1A, 1C, 7A, and 7C) will be given preference over other applicants. Once agriculture production and food processing applicants have completed their testing, all other applicants will be scheduled based on the date VDACS issued their Notice of Authorization. In-person testing will continue until such time as DMV offices reopen. Please do not contact the VDACS Office of Pesticide Services to determine your scheduled testing time, as applicants will be notified by VDACS Office of Pesticide Services staff.

Q. Are there waivers for certification for employees of licensed pesticide businesses applying pesticides?

Given the current public health crisis, and the implications for pesticide businesses, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Pesticide Services has taken steps to allow pesticide business employees to apply pesticides without obtaining a registered technician certification for the duration of the state of emergency due to COVID-19.

The Virginia Pesticide Control Act, Va. Code § 3.2-3900 et seq., requires that employees of licensed pesticide businesses meet certain training and testing requirements to be certified as a registered technician (as defined in Va. Code § 3.2-3900). The closure of the Department of Motor Vehicle offices in Virginia due to COVID-19 resulted in the elimination of the primary option for prospective registered technicians to meet the written examination requirement in Section 3.2-3930(B) of the Virginia Pesticide Control Act.

Pesticide businesses licensed by VDACS may allow their employees to apply pesticides without obtaining a registered technician certification for the duration of the state of emergency due to COVID-19 as declared by Governor Northam (Executive Order 51). The pesticide business and the employee(s) must meet the requirements outlined in this document This registered technician certification is temporary and will expire thirty (30) days after Governor Northam rescinds Virginia’s COVID-19 state of emergency.

On-Farm Wildlife Predation Assistance

Q: Can I still receive wildlife assistance from the state game department?

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offices are closed, but staff are teleworking, and all regional staff and Virginia Conservation Police officers are in the field and available.

Information on the agency’s COVID-19 response can be found at dgif.virginia.gov/covid-19.

Updated May 8, 2020

Virginia Tech releases report on pandemic’s impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive effect on nearly all facets of the agriculture industry. Virginia Tech has published a report addressing its impact on Virginia’s farm and agribusiness sector as of early May 2020.

Risk Management Agency

The Risk Management Agency is temporarily modifying some federal crop insurance processes and reporting deadlines in the wake of COVID-19 mitigation. These processes include assignment of indemnity and replant inspection certification. Deadlines have been extended for written agreement submission, sales and production reporting. Please consult with Virginia Farm Bureau State Crop Specialist, David Hunnicutt, at david.hunnicutt@vafb.com or your local crop insurance agent for details.

Other Resources

U.S. Paycheck Protection Program - Farms are Eligible

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a new guaranteed loan program for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. Eligible businesses include nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals and independent contractors with 500 or fewer employees. It is our understanding that this help does not apply to foreign workers under the visa programs like H-2A.

Loans are capped at $10 million but can include up to eight weeks of the business’ average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% for non-payroll costs. Seasonal and new businesses will use different calculations. The PPP will be available through June 30, 2020. Farmers can apply for the PPP through any existing SBA 7(a) lenders or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union that is participating Farm Credit System institution or Farm Bureau Bank. Farmers should know that if they apply for PPP that it will not inhibit them from applying for CFAP.

The loan will be forgiven if:

  • All employees are kept or quickly rehired and compensation levels are maintained for eight weeks (payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee)
  • The funds are used for:
    • Payroll and benefits
    • Mortgage interest incurred before February 15, 2020
    • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020
    • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Borrowers will still owe money if:

  • The loan amount is used for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the eight weeks after getting the loan.
  • Due to likely high subscriptions, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • You also will owe money if you do not maintain your staff and payroll.

Farm Bureau Bank processing PPP applications

Farm Bureau Bank continues to review Farm Bureau members’ applications for the Paycheck Protection Program of the U.S. Small Business Association, and to prepare them for submission to the SBA with anticipation of additional funds being approved by Congress and President Trump.

Launched earlier this spring, the PPP is a guaranteed loan program intended to help small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. Eligible businesses include nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals and independent contractors with 500 or fewer employees.

To apply, contact your Farm Bureau insurance agent, or visit the Farm Bureau Bank website.

U.S. business COVID-19 loans

Small businesses affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from Small Business Administration to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other expenses. American Farm Bureau has worked to get it clarified that farms are eligible. Loan applications can be submitted through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. On Monday, April 27, the EIDL website indicated that they are processing loans that were already in the pipeline, and to check back to see if they have opened up the application process for new loans. Participation in this program does not impact a farmer’s participation in the USDA CFAP program.

Side-by-Side Comparison of U.S. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and US Paycheck Protection Program

The National Federation of Independent Businesses has a thorough side-by-side comparison of these two programs that might be helpful in understanding the differences.

State taxes

The due date for Virginia individual and corporate income taxes is now June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadline should do so.

Grants

Truist-NCIFund COVID-19 Grants

  • Available to Virginia businesses
  • Grants will range from $5,000 to $25,000
  • Applicant requirements include in operation as of Aug. 1, 2019; no more than 10 full-time equivalents (300 hours/week); no more than $1 million in annual gross revenue; experienced at least a 15% reduction in sales due to COVID-19.

USDA farm loan information

Here are links to general farm loan programs explanation by type and electronic assessment tool:

Farm lending institutions

Farmers may utilize a variety of farm lending institutions. Most have closed their offices to the public but are utilizing appointments by phone or via email. Check your lending institution’s website for specifics. Here are some of the lending institutions that have statewide coverage and service a large number of farm loans:

Virginia’s Farm Credit Associations (depending on your location):

First Bank and Trust Company

All branches operating by phone and with drive-through windows to determine how to best serve you. For updates, visit firstbank.com/information-for-first-bank-and-trust-customers.

Other lending institutions and community banks

Check individual institutions’ websites, but most are arranging alternative ways of communicating and accepting payments. The following are also available to farmers in Virginia, and USDA FSA may be in a position to help with guaranteed farm loans:

  • Bank of Botetourt
  • Bank of Floyd
  • Bank of Southside Va.
  • Branch Banking & Trust
  • Carolina Farm Credit Service
  • Essex Bank
  • EVB
  • Farmers & Merchants Bank
  • Farmers Bank
  • First Citizens Bank & Trust Company
  • First Financial
  • First National Bank
  • Grayson National Bank
  • New Horizon Bank
  • New Peoples Bank Inc.
  • Pendleton Community Bank Inc.
  • Pioneer Bank
  • Sonabank
  • Suntrust Bank
  • The Bank 0f Charlotte County
  • The Bank of Marion
  • The Fauquier Bank
  • Union First Market Bank
  • United Bank

Updated March 23, 2020

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom has a long history of providing educators, volunteers, families and children with resource to learn about agriculture the source of our food and basic needs. This program connects our youth to the story of agriculture to prepare a future generation of agriculture leaders and informed citizens.

Virginia AITC is a nonprofit organization supported by Virginia Farm Bureau, as well as by individual, agriculture organization and corporate sponsors.

FAQ:

What activities are available for children?

What lessons and resources are available for educators and families?

Where can I find more information?

In addition to Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom, find national agriculture highlights at National Agriculture in the Classroom and the American Farm Bureau Foundation. Here are the links:

How can I help?

Share our resources with youth in your community. Support the program to enable more children to learn about agriculture and its impact on daily life.

Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom

Virginia AITC on Facebook

Farm Life 360 virtual farm tours

Journey 2050 virtual farm game (home edition)

National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture

My American Farm

Updated April 24, 2020

The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to many different forms of stress, from financial and family concerns to increased anxiety over isolation and quarantine.

The documents below have been created to help identify stress and anxiety in yourself and others, and provide tips for self-care and stress management. They also identify organizations that can provide assistance as we all deal with changes to our daily routines.

Updated April 2, 2020

Donate to food banks

One way to help others is to volunteer or donate to local food banks and their associated pantries or feeding programs.

In Virginia, there are seven regional food banks under the umbrella of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks.

Food donations make a difference

The following was excerpted from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

If there’s any silver lining in our new normal, it’s the evidence that we live and work in communities where people care about each other and about folks in need. The Food Bank has received questions from people who want to know what they can do for others impacted by this pandemic. Here are some ideas:

  • Donate money – Our resources will be stretched and strained in the coming months in ways we cannot even imagine today. Making a financial gift—left unrestricted for the Food Bank to use where the need is greatest—will give us flexibility to respond as things change. Typically, we can provide four meals for every $1 contributed.
  • Volunteer – We’ve put strategies in place to make our volunteer workspaces even safer to visit. We anticipate needing more volunteers than ever before! If you are healthy and willing to share your time and energy, thank you for sharing those gifts at the Food Bank or a local food pantry near you.
  • Engage Others – Enlist your friends and family to join the cause. Share our emails, engage with and share our posts on Facebook or Twitter, or consider creating an online drive (virtual food!) or Facebook fundraiser to benefit food banks. The more we come together, the stronger we will all be on the other side of this.

What does a statewide stay-at-home order mean for food banks?

Food Bank staff, volunteers and partners throughout our network provide essential service to the communities we serve, and we will continue to do so as the COVID-19 public health crisis evolves.

The following statement from the Federation of Virginia Food Banks has been approved by Governor Northam:

Please be advised that regardless of the Virginia mandates for business closing, quarantine, and/or sheltering, the charitable food assistance network will always be exempt. Our work on the front lines to fight food insecurity across the Commonwealth is considered life-sustaining work. This work includes that of food banks and partner agencies—pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters—and our most valuable asset, our volunteers.

What are food banks doing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak?

  • They are following and promoting proper hygiene and prevention protocols with employees and volunteers as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Food banks are sharing those same protocols with our community partners—mostly volunteer-staffed and often faith-based groups.
  • They are adapting existing disaster response and business continuity plans to address the specific challenges and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These plans address internal factors—such as staffing, food sourcing, and distribution—and they address external factors, such as emergency communications and potential suspensions and closures among our community partners.
  • Food banks are maintaining substantial supplies of food to respond to potential spikes in the need for food assistance among individuals who become homebound, quarantined, unemployed, or otherwise affected by disruptions in daily life caused by the pandemic.

Virginia Food Crop Donation Tax Credit

As the growing season progresses, farmers can donate produce and other food items from their farms. Virginia provides a tax credit for farmers who donate food.

Virginia’s Food Crop Donation Tax Credit is an income tax credit for farmers who make food crop donations to a food bank. The guidelines have been released for the program and can be viewed here.

The tax credit would equal 30% of the fair market value of the food crops donated by the person during the taxable year not to exceed an aggregate of $5,000 for any taxable year. The food crops are defined as grains, fruits, nuts, or vegetables. This tax credit’s aim is to help encourage more farmers to donate some of their crop to local food banks to help feed the hungry.

To receive the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit, donors must apply to the Department by completing Form FCD-1, which is available to download from the Department’s website tax.virignia.gov. This form and any supporting documentation must be completed and mailed no later than February 1 of the year following the taxable year during which the donations were made.

Farmers who file for the Food Crop Donation Tax Credit can claim the credit against the following taxes administered by Virginia Tax:

  • individual income tax
  • corporate income tax

Are there any restrictions on how the donated crops are used?

  • The food bank must use the donated crops in a way that provides food for the needy.
  • The donated crops can’t be used outside of Virginia, and can’t be used to pay for goods or services.
  • If the food bank decides to sell the donated crops, they can only sell them to the needy, other nonprofit food banks, or other organizations that will use the crops to provide food to the needy.

The food bank that receives your donation will complete Form FCD-2, Virginia Food Crop Donation Certification, and give the certification to you within 30 days of when you donated the crops.

Is there a cap?

Yes. We can’t issue more than $250,000 in food crop donation tax credits per fiscal year.

Using the credit:

To claim the credit, complete the following and attach it to your return:

  • Schedule CR for individual returns - PART 28 - FOOD CROP DONATION TAX CREDIT
  • Form 500CR for corporate returns

For more information, visit Va. Code § 58.1-439.12:12.

Tax Credit Resources

Food Crop Donation Tax Credit Guidelines

Food Crop Donation Tax Credit Application and Certification, Form Schedule

Federal Charitable Deduction, Publication 526

2016 Webinar Virginia's Food Crop Donation Tax Credit

Farmers and food banks reaping rewards from tax credit

Real Virginia - Food Donation Tax Credit

appartment

Many Farm Bureau offices are open, but with certain restrictions.

With the safety and health of members and staff in mind, Virginia Farm Bureau offices will be following Phase 2 opening guidelines.

CFAP Application Information

The application process for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program began May 26 and ends Sept. 11.

Extension Resources

Virginia Cooperative Extension has compiled numerous COVID-19 resources on its website.

USDA Service Centers

Get information about Service Center operations and closures, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Information from VDACS

Access coronavirus-related information from Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Video: A Message to Virginia Agriculture & Forestry

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