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Helpful Resources to Answer Your Questions About Covid-19

Secretary Perdue's Message to Farmers, Ranchers and Producers

Georgia Specific Information

Top Industry Concerns

CARES Act Webinar with Congressman Buddy Carter

Employer Resources

Business Resources

Information Sheets and Graphics

Transportation

Tracking of Virus

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has been engaged with the larger US produce industry and helping guide many GFVGA members regarding COVID-19. An effective food safety plan coupled with the addition of recommended social distancing, is the best defense a produce operation has against COVID-19. 

Below are resources to help a fresh produce operation navigate this unprecedented occurrence in our world. 

If you have any questions, contact Beth Oleson, boleson@asginfo.net .

  

Georgia Specific Information

 

Top Industry Concerns

  1. Can fresh produce transmit the COVID-19 virus?
    • FDA directly addresses food safety concerns at the bottom of their FAQ page: “Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. That’s why it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook and chill."
  2. Do I need to recall produce or food products if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 in a food facility?
    • FDA's FAQ state“We do not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19, as there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging. Additionally, facilities are required to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.” 
  3. What do I do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
  4. Will the produce industry be shut down like many other organizations and industries?
    • No. The food and agriculture industry is defined as critically essential during this time as the country continues to navigate through COVID-19. Federal agencies are doing everything they can to as to not disrupt the food supply chain for American citizens. 
  5. I have a customer requesting extension to our payment terms due to the COVID-19 emergency. If I extend payment terms with customers beyond 30 days will it impact my PACA Trust rights?
    • USDA PACA FAQIt is strongly advised that all produce sellers – whether growers, shippers, wholesalers, or others – should NOT enter into extended payment terms beyond 30 days, before the initial 30-day payment period is past. Many companies want to cooperate with one another, but extending terms before the end of the 30-day period waives your PACA trust rights and the ability to have preferential trust rights in the event of your customer’s bankruptcy. However, regulations DO ALLOW a seller and buyer to agree to a partial payment plan or enter into a payment schedule AFTER the 30-day period without losing your PACA trust rights.
  6. What if my employees are stopped during a “shelter in place” and curfew?
    • United Fresh Produce Association tailored a food and beverage coalition resource that companies can provide to workers as attestation that, as a member of the fresh produce industry,  they are authorized to work during this crisis. 
    • Download the food worker/shipment certificate.
  7. If a business is having trouble transporting food or with other major supply chain disruptions (for example not being able to get critical supplies), contact FEMA’s national emergency business operations center at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov. 
  8. What disinfectants can be used to control COVID-19?
  9. How can we manage harvest and packing crews and employee housing with the 6-foot social distance rule in place?

 

CARES Act with Congressman Buddy Carter

The CARES Act is the third piece of legislation that Congress has passed since the beginning of March to address COVID-19 outbreak. A key area that is critical to our southeast fruit and vegetable industry and your farm operation is the $9.5 Billion Targeted Emergency COVID-19 Fund to support agriculture industries impacted by COVID-19, including fruit and vegetable producers, livestock producers, and producer focused on local food systems. 

A part of this Act is the Paycheck Protection Program which provides $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program can provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities can be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020 to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. 

The webinar will be a discussion about the CARES Act including an overview of the Paycheck Protection Program and related ag issues.

Resources for Cares Act

Additional Resources

 

 

Employer Resources

  1. PMA has created a the Digest of Guidance to the Food Industry to help cut down on redundancy and confusion from lots of regulatory organizations. 
  2. Comprehensive And Updated FAQs For Employers On The COVID-19 Coronavirus from Fisher Phillips law firm
  3. FAQ for H-2A Employers Regarding COVID-19 from the National Council of Agriculture Employers
  4. OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
  5. CDC Guidance for Employers and Business related to Coronavirus COVID-19
  6. Steps Companies Should Take to Protect Themselves from the Legal Fallout of the Coronavirus
  7. Time for a Policy Checkup: Maximizing Insurance Coverage for Coronavirus Losses
  8. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for Employers
  9. Department of Labor H-2A FAQ
  10. North Carolina State University Fresh Produce Safety
  11. Best Practices to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Among Migrant Workers
  12. Hand Washing Video

 

Business Resources

  1. Information for Cold Storage Warehouses
  2. National Restaurant Association Business Continuity Planning
  3. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans Available. Apply online.

 

Information Sheets and Graphics

  1. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Hand Hygiene
  2. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Homemade Hand Sanitizer
  3. North Carolina State University Information Sheet – Cleaning and Disinfecting
  4. California Strawberry Commission’s Employee Poster Best Practices
  5. American Mushroom Institute’s Employee Poster Best Practices
  6. Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19 from the University of Vermont
  7. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Print Resources and Posters

 

Transportation

  1. Certificate for Transporting food and agricultural supplies
  2. Weight Limits Temporarily Increased Weights on Trucks
  3. Blue Book Temperature and Ethylene Compatibility Guideline
  4. UC Davis Compatibility Chart
  5. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have waived hours of work restrictions for essential service drivers, including all food loads FMCSA's

 

Tracking of Virus

GFVGA | P.O. Box 2945 | LaGrange GA 30241 | 706-845-8200