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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Updated March 26, 2021

The agricultural workforce, including food and agriculture workers and veterinarians, are eligible under the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Phase 1b. Every health district in Virginia has moved into Phase 1b, which means these workers are eligible regardless of their home county.

For more information and to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov.

Frontline farmers are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Agricultural groups know farmers are essential workers, and they are supporting efforts to get them vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our nation’s food supply depends on farmers’ and frontline agricultural workers’ ability to work safely,” said Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The work of planting, cultivating, harvesting, packaging and processing crops and livestock cannot be conducted remotely or accomplished without contact. Despite swift implementation of best practices and state and federal guidance in the fields and processing facilities, the agricultural workforce remains at heightened risk of infection, as do the frontline critical-risk workers.”

Food and agriculture workers and veterinarians are eligible under the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Phase 1b. Every health district in Virginia has moved into Phase 1b, which means these workers are eligible regardless of their home county.

“We have all seen the significant toll that disruption of the agricultural food supply chain places on communities and families. It’s important for them to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Rowe noted. “We appreciate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the commonwealth of Virginia recognized the role of the agricultural workforce in public health and food security and prioritized them for vaccine allocation in Phase 1b.”

A mass vaccination clinic targeting farmworkers in the Blue Ridge Health District was held in late February. Currently, the Northern Neck Soil and Water Conservation District has partnered with Virginia Cooperative Extension agents to disseminate an online survey to gauge interest in holding vaccine clinics for farmers, nursery workers, aquaculturalists and agribusiness workers.

In Appomattox County, Extension agents helped organize vaccination clinics on March 3 and March 10 for area farmers.

The county’s Extension agents Bonnie Tillotson and Bruce Jones said they had 100 doses available for the first clinic, but after they contacted hundreds of farmers, only 60 signed up. “Then word of mouth took over, and our phones were ringing off the hook,” Tillotson said. There was a waiting list for the second clinic.

“A lot of farmers are older, so they’re already in the high-risk bracket, and they need to stay healthy to get out in their fields and feed their livestock and keep our food supply going,” Tillotson said.

“Our farm is family-operated, so if someone gets ill from COVID, there’s no one to fill in,” said Lee McClenny, who operates a beef cattle farm in Pamplin with her husband, Kenneth. The couple received their first vaccine at the March 10 clinic in Appomattox.

On the Eastern Shore, where some of the state’s largest poultry processing facilities are located, the Delmarva Chicken Association is encouraging its members to get vaccinated.

“Farmers have stayed steady throughout this pandemic as market disruptions, quarantines and labor shortages complicated their day-to-day work producing food for Americans and the world,” said Holly Porter, DCA executive director. “Now that vaccine availability is reaching Virginia’s farmers and their employees as frontline essential workers in Phase 1b, the promise of getting back to normal is very close, and that’s a relief.”

Porter added that the association is encouraging its Virginia members to sign up at vaccinate.virginia.gov.

Rowe also said he’s optimistic about the increased availability of the vaccine—especially in rural areas.

“Rural areas—home to the largest percentage of Virginia’s farmers and farm workers—have borne a greater burden from the virus, in part because they tend to have older populations, a high prevalence of underlying medical conditions, and may lack nearby medical care or facilities. We are glad to see rural health districts working to provide greater access to vaccination clinics within close proximity to agricultural operations and their related processing facilities.”

Updated March 18, 2021

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.

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 March 18, 2021

New Statewide Emergency Workplace Safety Standards

On Jan. 13, 2021, the Safety and Health Codes Board adopted a Final Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention: SARS-CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19, 16 VAC25-220. The governor reviewed the standard in accordance with 16 VAC25-220.A. The standard was filed with the Virginia registrar of regulations on Jan. 25, 2021. The final standard in its entirety was published in the Jan. 27, 2021, edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch, making the standard effective on Jan. 27, 2021. See Richmond Times Dispatch Legal Notice 01-27-21.

For a PDF version of the Final Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the Virus That Causes COVID-19, 16-VAC25-220, see: Final Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of COVID-19, 16VAC25-220, 1.27.2021.

The final standard incorporates the following documents by reference: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List N for use against SARS-CoV-2 Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (Dec. 2009).

It is imperative that you understand the standards and ensure compliance on your farm or agribusiness.

The requirements for 16VAC25-220-70 shall take effect on March 26, 2021, and the training requirements in 16VAC25-220-80 shall take effect on March 26, 2021. Within 14 days of the expiration of the governor’s COVID-19 State of Emergency and commissioner of health’s COVID-19 Declaration of Public Emergency, the Safety and Health Codes Board shall notice a regular, special or emergency meeting/conduct a regular, special or emergency meeting to determine whether there is a continued need for the standard.

For training materials, see Outreach, Training and Education Materials. For guidance on how to report coronavirus cases, see Reporting Positive Coronavirus Cases and for online reporting, see the Commonwealth’s Online Reporting Link

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, 2020, 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. 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, 2020. 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.

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.

H-2A and COVID-19 Resources

Farm Bureau is committed to keeping H-2A employers up-to-date in the ever-changing landscape presented by COVID-19. Please visit the USDA H-2A resource page where you will find continually updated resources and news regarding the H-2A Visa Program and its response to COVID-19.

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.

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. Please note: As of Jan. 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

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.

Additional Resources

Updated March 18, 2021

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 the 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

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hereby declares that the continuing national emergency warrants extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002. The extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the fifty States and the District of Columbia as set forth below.

TFMCSA issued Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 in response to the March 13, 2020 declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the immediate risk COVID-19 presents to public health and welfare. FMCSA has previously modified Emergency Declaration 2020-002 to expand and remove categories of supplies, equipment and persons covered by the Emergency Declaration to respond to changing needs for emergency relief. On December 1, 2020, FMCSA expanded and extended the modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 and associated regulatory relief through February 28, 2021 in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25. FMCSA is continuing the exemption and associated regulatory relief in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25, because the presidentially declared emergency remains in place and because a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains. This notice continues the relief granted in Emergency Declaration 2020-002, as modified on June 15, 2020, August 15, 2020, and December 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021 subject to the restrictions and limitations set forth herein. This extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, and provides necessary relief from the FMCSRs for motor carriers and drivers.

By execution of this extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 public health emergency are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, except as restricted herein. Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies related to COVID-19 during the emergency.

The extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and 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; (3) vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19; (4) 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; and (5) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. 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.[1]

Emergency Declaration Restrictions Limitations

By execution of this extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the national emergency are not granted emergency relief from, and must continue to comply with, the following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and conditions:

  1. 49 CFR § 392.2 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with State laws and regulations, including compliance with applicable speed limits and other traffic restrictions.
  2. 49 CFR § 392.3 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle while a driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle.
  3. Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.
  4. 49 CFR §§ 392.80 and 392.82 related to the prohibitions on texting while driving and using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving.
  5. 49 CFR §§ 396.7 and 396.9 related to the prohibitions on operating a vehicle in a condition likely to cause an accident or breakdown of the vehicle and operating a vehicle declared and marked out-of-service until all repairs required by the out-of-service notice have been satisfactorily completed.
  6. A motor carrier whose driver is involved in a crash while operating under this emergency declaration must report any recordable crash within 24 hours, by phone or in writing, to the FMCSA Division Office where the motor carrier is domiciled. The carrier must report the date, time, location, driver, vehicle identification, and brief description of the crash.
  7. Nothing in the Emergency Declaration or this extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration shall be construed as an exemption from the controlled substance and alcohol uses and testing requirements (49 CFR Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (49 CFR Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387), the hazardous material regulations (49 CFR Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under 49 CFR § 390.23.
  8. Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this declaration until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA in writing.
  9. Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. (49 CFR § 390.23(b)). Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399. When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operations, equals 14 hours.

NOTE: In the interest of ensuring continued commercial motor vehicle safety, it is FMCSA’s intention to wind down the exemptions granted under this Emergency Declaration and related COVID-19 regulatory relief measures to the extent possible.

In accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25, this extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 is effective at 12:00 A.M. (ET), February 17, 2021 and shall remain in effect until 11:59 P.M. (ET), May 31, 2021, or until the revocation of the declaration of national emergency under whichever is sooner.

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 Aug. 26, 2021

Important CFAP2 Update

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is updating the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP2) for contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry and producers of specialty crops and other sales-based commodities. CFAP 2 assists producers who faced market disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19. Full details may be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus/pandemic-assistance/cfap2.

Applying for Assistance

Signup for CFAP 2 was re-opened in March and remains open to address inadequate initial outreach efforts to reach underserved producers, particularly those who produce sales commodities. Newly eligible producers who need to submit a CFAP 2 application, or producers who need to modify an existing one, can do so by contacting their local FSA office. Producers also can obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364. All new and modified CFAP 2 applications are due by the Oct. 12 deadline.

Contract Producers

Contract poultry and hog producers (as well as eligible breeding stock and eggs) may be eligible for assistance. Contract producers can now elect to use eligible revenue from the period of Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 27, 2018, instead of that date range in 2019 if it is more representative. This change is intended to provide flexibility and make the program more equitable for contract producers who had reduced revenue in 2019 compared to a normal production year. Additional flexibilities have been added to account for new operations and increases to operation size in 2020 and situations where a contract producer did not have a full period of revenue from Jan. 1 to Dec. 27 for either 2018 or 2019.

Sales-Based Commodities

USDA is amending the CFAP 2 payment calculation for sales-based commodities, which are primarily comprised of by specialty crops, to allow producers to substitute 2018 sales for 2019 sales. Previously, payments for producers of sales-based commodities were based only on 2019 sales, with 2019 used as an approximation of the amount the producer would have expected to market in 2020. Giving producers the option to substitute 2018 sales for this approximation, including 2018 crop insurance indemnities and 2018 crop year Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program and Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus payments, provides additional flexibility to producers of sales-based commodities who had reduced sales in 2019.

Grass seed also has been added as an eligible sales commodity for CFAP 2. A complete list of all eligible sales-based commodities can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus/pandemic-assistance/cfap2/commodities. Producers of sales-based commodities can modify existing applications.

NEW Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program

USDA will provide $350 million through the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program to dairy farmers who received a lower value for their products due to market abnormalities caused by the pandemic. Additional details about the program are available and will be updated at the AMS Dairy Program website. The assistance is part of a larger package including permanent improvements to the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program.

Under the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program, payments will reimburse qualified dairy farmers for 80% of the revenue difference per month based on an annual production of up to 5 million pounds of milk marketed and on fluid milk sales from July through December 2020. The payment rate will vary by region based on the actual losses on pooled milk related to price volatility. USDA will make payments through agreements with independent handlers and cooperatives. Handlers and cooperatives will distribute the monies on the same basis July-December 2020 payments were made to their dairy farmer suppliers and a formula set by USDA. USDA will reimburse handlers and cooperatives for allowed administrative costs.

USDA will contact eligible handlers and cooperatives to notify them of the opportunity to participate in the Program. USDA will distribute payments to participating handlers within 60 days of entering into an agreement. Once funding is provided, a handler will have 30 days to distribute monies to qualifying dairy farmers.

Dairy Margin Coverage

USDA will also make improvements to the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program updating the feed cost formula to better reflect the actual cost dairy farmers pay for high quality alfalfa. This change will be retroactive to January 2020 and is expected to provide additional retroactive payments of about $100 million for 2020 and 2021.

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

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 March 18, 2021

EPA Statement on PPE for Pesticide Uses

In June and October of 2020, EPA issued updated guidance on Personal Protective Equipment for pesticide uses. EPA has heard from states and stakeholders about PPE 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 guidance regarding respiratory protection requirements for agricultural pesticide handlers.

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

EPA Dicamba Decision

In 2020, there were ongoing court issues pertaining to dicamba use that put farmers in a difficult position of not knowing whether the products would be available for future use (click here to read more on this subject.) This created a great deal of uncertainty for farmers making 2021 planting decisions.

Towards the end of 2020, farmers were given certainty when EPA approved new registrations for two “over-the-top” (OTT) dicamba products—XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide—and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product, Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology. These registrations will expire in 2025.

The new registrations include the following control measures to manage off-site movement of dicamba:

  • Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent (also called a Volatility Reduction Agent or VRA) be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility;
  • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located;
  • Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30; and
  • Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.

The registrations include flexibilities for the downwind spray buffer for soybeans if certain hooded sprayers are used as an alternative control method. EPA also noted that it will work with states who wish to use FIFRA section 24 to issue locally appropriate regulations for pesticide use.

Product-specific information:

Registered Pesticide Applicator Certification

As always, pesticide businesses and pesticide applicators are encouraged to visit the VDACS website for the most current information.

The expiration dates for all authorization letters for prospective applicators (including commercial applicators and registered technicians) to take the exam(s) to become certified issued on or after Dec. 20, 2019, have been extended to June 30, 2021, or the current date of expiration, whichever is greater.

It is imperative that prospective pesticide applicators who were issued an authorization letter to take the exam(s) for certification do so before the expiration date. Prospective applicators that do not take the exam(s) by June 30, 2021, 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). There will be no additional extensions to the expiration date. Opportunities for testing include the following options (Note: All requirements of the governor’s executive order are required to be followed including wearing of facial masks; social distancing and disinfection):

  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) - Prospective applicators (commercial applicators, private applicators and registered technicians) can take their exams at DMV customer service centers. All services are by appointment only including pesticide applicator certification testing. Appointments can be scheduled on the DMV website. Select “Appointments” from their home page. When scheduling an appointment, prospective applicators will select the “Learner’s Permit and Other Testing" service type and the location where they will be testing. Applicators will next select the category "Knowledge Testing" and indicate they would like to take the knowledge test for "Dealer Operators, Salesperson, or Pesticide Applicator Certification." According to the website, three months of appointment slots are available at any time on the calendar. Each day, a new day of appointments is added to the end of the available period. New appointment slots will be posted multiple times every hour. Cancellations also can create earlier availability in the calendar. If you do not see availability, all the posted appointment slots are currently booked. Individuals wanting to take a certification exam(s) at DMV should check the site frequently for availability and are encouraged to look outside their area. Should you need additional information regarding DMV reopening or services available, please contact DMV directly.
  • Virginia Pest Management Association (VPMA) is offering limited in-person testing opportunities to prospective pesticide applicators. Information regarding testing locations and event registration is available on the VPMA website.
  • Proctored Testing by Pesticide Investigators – The Office of Pesticide Services Pesticide Investigators also can be available to proctor testing of prospective applicators. Contact information for pesticide investigators is available on the VDACS webpage at https://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/about-division-of-consumer-protection.shtml#pesticides.

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 Jan. 20, 2021

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 is a 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.

The PPP now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan with the same general loan terms as their First Draw PPP Loan. New borrowers to the program may also be eligible.

This second round of PPP loans includes improvements that can benefit farmers:

  • Allowable expenses that had been paid for with forgiven PPP loans may be taken as a business deduction for income tax purposes without limitation.
  • The qualifying reduction in gross revenue was reduced from 50% to 25% between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. This much-needed change for producers who suffered multiple years of losses expands the number of farms that can qualify to participate.
  • Gross income, instead of net farm income, will now be used for the loan requirement calculation for farmers who file as sole proprietors will allow many more producers to participate.

Farmers can apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan until March 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted, through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, eligible non-bank lender, or Farm Credit System institution that is participating in PPP. For most borrowers, the maximum loan amount of a Second Draw PPP Loan is 2.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. Farmers should know that if they apply for PPP that it will not inhibit them from applying for CFAP.

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020

Second Draw PPP Loans made to eligible borrowers qualify for full loan forgiveness if during the 8- to 24-week covered period following loan disbursement:

  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained in the same manner as required for the First Draw PPP loan;
  • The loan proceeds are spent on payroll costs and other eligible expenses; and
  • At least 60% of the proceeds are spent on payroll costs.li>
  • Second Draw PPP funds can be used for:
    • Payroll and benefits
    • Mortgage interest
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • Worker protection expenses related to COVID-19 (personal protective equipment and adaptions)
    • Uninsured property damage costs due to 2020 looting and vandalism
    • Certain supplier costs and expenses for operations

Borrowers will still owe money if:

  • The loan amount is used for anything other than the eligible uses during the loan period
  • The borrower does not maintain 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 3 guidelines.

CFAP 2 Application Information

The application process for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 began Jan. 19 and USDA’s Farm Service Agency will continue to accept applications.

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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