COVID-19 Guidance & Resources for MA Vegetable Farms
- MDAR Farm Labor Management Guidance
- MDAR guidance for retail greenhouses
- MDAR guidance for farmers’ markets, farm stands and CSAs
- MDAR guidance for pick-your-own operations
- Other agricultural guidance and resources from MDAR
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 Information
- Cornell Institue for Food Safety: FAQs for the Food Industry
Includes questions and answers regarding persistence of COVID-19, employee policies, facility procedures, testing, and delivery & shipping.
- COVID-19 and Your Produce Farm webinar (Cornell Ag Workforce Development)
This webinar includes some information that is specific to New York farms and is presented clearly as such. See below for some of the equivalent information in Massachusetts.
- MA League of Community Health Centers: Community Health Center Directory
- Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program
This program helps to cover medical payments for Valley farmworkers and their families who are uninsured or underinsured.
- Directory of MA Town Boards of Health
- Massachusetts Absence and Leave Policies
- How to build a field handwashing station in 10 easy steps for under $20
- Handwashing Units: An Overview of Units for Small- to Large-Scale Agricultural Operations
Worker Safety & Other Workforce Issues
- Department to Temporarily Amend Certain H-2A Requirements During COVID-19 National Emergency (Published April 15)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act Dept. of Labor factsheets for Employees and Employers
- Podcasts from Farm Commons on sick leave, health screening, managing workers and more
- H-2A Visas, Embassy Closures, and Travel Restrictions
- Guidance for retail worker health and safety (CDC)
- Safe Operating Guidance for Small Farm Businesses During COVID-19 (WA State Dept of Ag)
- CDC Posters, including “Stop the Spread of Germs” and “Symptoms of COVID-19” in multiple languages
- FDA: Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Coverings in the Food and Agriculture Sectors During Coronavirus Disease Pandemic
Food Safety Resources
- Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019
A number of resources are available from FDA to address concerns about COVID-19. It is important to note that FDA and CDC continue to emphasize that COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness, but resources continue to be updated to provide guidance to the food industry.
- NECAFS Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse
This is a searchable database of a wide range of food safety and farm sanitation resources from the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety, including new materials related to COVID-19.
Marketing & Sales Resources
- MDAR How and Where to Buy Local Map
To best serve you and your customers, MDAR needs your help to keep the MassGrown map current.
- Search the map for all the categories that might represent your business.
- Be sure you are listed with all the crops and products you grow/produce.
- Is your farm phone and description accurate?
- Does it includes your website (or Facebook link)?
- CSA Farms: Have you added drop off locations/or offer deliveries? Let us know.
MDAR Tool: CSA-Producer Match Spreadsheet
Matches CSAs or farmstands looking for products to stock with growers or value-added producers looking for marketing outlets. The spreadsheet has tabs at the bottom, “CSA Farmers Seeking Products”, “Value added Producers Seeking CSA Partners”. We will keep the link live as a bulletin board, so you may come back for updated listings and posts. Questions, contact Richard.LeBlanc@mass.gov or Rebecca.Davidson@mass.gov.
- Farm to Institute New England Tool: Matching Needs & Surplus
Includes product needs & surpluses, as well as employment, and storage space listings.
- MDAR Tool: List of Farmers' Markets Seeking Vendors
Bookmark this link, as it is updated often. Contacts for all the markets are posted here.
Assistance for Individuals & Families
- The CARES Act included direct payments to individuals and families. Click here to go to an IRS page that answers questions and provides information about this effort.
Assistance for Small Businesses
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a new guaranteed loan program, which includes money 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. The first round of PPP funding ran out very quickly. As of April 27, 2020 PPP funding was replenished. Apply quickly! Apply through any SBA 7(a) lendor or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating.
- Economic Injury DIsaster Loan Program has been expanded to allow agricultural operations with fewer than 500 employees to qualify. EIDL offers emergency loans of up to $10,000 in cash to businesses that are losing revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Farmers to Families Food Box Program is a federal program that will support the distribution of food boxes from producers to non-profits. Request for proposals, application documents, and informational webinars available on the program website.
- USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers farm assistance. While all local FSA Offices in MA are being staffed each day, they are only available by telephone to assist producers with any program issues and questions. At the present time, no one is allowed to visit the officers in person. Individuals with program questions should contact the local FSA Office that serves their farming operation.
The phone number of your local office can be found at: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=ma&agency=fs
Additionally, if anyone has a question concerning FSA Farm Loan Programs, please contact the following number depending on the location of your farming operation:
- Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, Worcester, Middlesex and Essex Counties: (413) 585-1000 x2
- All other counties: (508) 295-5151 x2
- The following three webinars may be useful in answering questions as well:
- COVID-19 Financial Assistance for Farms & Small Businesses (PASA)
- Paycheck Protection Program: Insight into program basics and how your business may qualify (Farm Credit East)
- Conservation Reserve Program
More than 3.4 million acres selected for the general signup Conservation Reserve Program. Through CRP, farmers and ranchers receive an annual rental payment for establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland.
- Farm Service Agency has made changes to farm loan, disaster, conservation and safety net programs to make it easier for customers to conduct business. This includes relaxing the farm loan-making process, servicing direct loans, and servicing guaranteed loans. Click here for more information.
- Risk Management Agency
The Risk Management Agency is authorizing additional flexibilities due to coronavirus while continuing to support producers, working through Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to deliver services, including processing policies, claims and agreements. These flexibilities include: enabling producers to send notifications and reports electronically, extending the date for production reports and providing additional time and deferring interest on premium and other payments. Click here for more details, or contact UMass Extension Risk Management Specialists Paul Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tom Smiarowski (email@example.com).
MA-Specific Financial Resources
- Baker-Polito Administration Announces $10 Million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund
- Mass Food Trust Program (MFTP)
- Disaster Loan Assistance (SBA)
- CISA Emergency Farm Fund
- Fast Track Loan Program (Common Capital)
- Harvard Pilgrim Non-Profit COVID-19 Relief Efforts Grants
- Farmer Relief Fund (AFT)
- Farm Credit East