COVID19 Updates and ResourcesNOFA Mass2020-10-19T12:25:54-04:00
COVID19 Updates and Resources
Last update: 9/8/20
This is certainly a time for us to come together to share resources and words of encouragement. NOFA/Mass is grateful for the work of allies in the food advocacy and sustainable agriculture world who have assembled a great wealth of COVID-19 related resources. We have curated the below set of resources from the resource documents listed at the very bottom of this page, and would refer our members to those pages, as well.
Please note that this page is NOT meant to be a general resource about the virus or the public response. For that information we recommend the CDC or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Please also note that this list does notconstitute an endorsement of any particular program, guidance, or course of action.
For NOFA/Mass endorsed advocacy campaigns related to COVID-19, please see our “Take Action” page.
Online Ordering, Home Deliveries, and Closures (CISA) -Local farms, restaurants, and other businesses are responding quickly to new recommendations and concerns related to the spread of coronavirus. We [at CISA] are doing our best to capture new systems that they are setting up to sell to customers and closures as we hear about them. This page is updated daily with any changes, updates and adaptations we know of.
This week, USDA announced the eligibility criteria and application process for farmers to receive direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Applications will be accepted starting on Tuesday, May 26th and funds will be disbursed on a first come, first serve basis. If you plan to apply, we recommend that you contact your local FSA office as soon as possible to start the process, and see below for more information.
While we’re at it, we want to share some additional information you may find useful regarding COVID-19 relief for farmers:
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Details
If you are considering applying to CFAP, we recommend watching this helpful 3-minute video from USDA to learn more about the process and begin getting your paperwork in order. If you have not worked with the FSA before and do not know your local office’s location, there is a “Find Your Local Service Center” tool at the bottom of the CFAP page.
Based on what we know about the program and payment structure, there are many issues that make it problematic for organic and diversified producers. Our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) have put together a useful guide to help you decide if this program could benefit you.
Updates re: CFAP from National Sustainable Agriculture Coaltion (7/3/20)
USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program continues to accept applications from producers. As of this week’s latest data, the program has given out approximately $4.8 billion of its $16 billion in funding.
In addition to highlighting in the media and within Congress the program’s shortcomings, we also are working to do our best to get information out to producers about how the program works and to ensure they have solid information to make an informed choice about applying for aid. I’ve collected below some resources – several new! – we are making widely available to help:
NEW – Detailed Farmers’ Guide to CFAP (PDF, 100 pages) – this technical resource is the most detailed and comprehensive. If you’re working with producers, this is a really helpful reference. Our partners at FLAG led the drafting with input from NSAC policy staff.
CFAP Eligibility Basics (PDF, 1 page) – this is a one-page quick reference to help producers assess their eligibility.
“Each week we will have a crop, pest, or farm management topic lined up for demonstration and discussion. Some weeks will have more presenation, other weeks will have more time for discussion, but you are always welcome to ask questions of us or other growers who have called in on any farm-related topic.
“Farmers can join by phone or by computer—those who join by computer will be able to see some shared photos and presentations.
“This is a new program that we hope will allow us to connect with growers while we are not able to physically visit farms for routine scouting and assistance. It is intended for our commercial farmers and will cover topics relevant to small and large scale farm businesses and conventional and organic production systems.
“Some portions of some calls may be recorded and posted for later listening. Links to previous recorded calls will be linked to on this site.
· May 13: Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting on the Farm in the Era of COVID-19
There are differences among cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting that are important to understand in developing new protocols for your farm during the pandemic and in general for routine sanitation. We will cover the basic principles behind these terms and discuss what we know (and don’t know) so far about how to apply them on your farm this season.
MA DPH guidance on wearing masks– This guidance encourages the wearing of cloth masks, including guidelines for proper usage and instructions on how to make cloth masks. MDAR recommends that farms follow this guidance in the workplace.
MA DPH guidance for nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and ag supply stores– MA nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, and agriculture supply stores that sell food or food producing plants for human consumption are currently allowed to continue to operate brick and mortar premises, as long as they comply with the guidelines outlined in this document. Note that those operations that sells solely plants that do not produce food for human consumption shall remain closed.
MA DPH order addressing grocery stores and guidance for grocery stores– These two links – the executive order governing operations for grocery stores issued March 25th, and follow-up guidance issued April 7th – describe the required safety measures that grocery stores must implement to remain in operation as an essential service.
AFT Farmer Relief Grant Program – This program will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially, eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs.
United Way Covid-19 Family Support Fund – The fund will support the work of 20 organizations throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire in administering emergency assistance to families of hourly and low-wage workers, providing one-time grants of up to $2,000 to cover food, housing, and child care.
CISA Emergency Farm Fund– CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund offers zero-interest loans to assist farms struggling to meet their immediate needs as a result of crisis events.
Mass Food Trust Program (MFTP) – The Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP) provides loans, grants, and business assistance for increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income, underserved areas.
PVGrows Investment Fund – The PVGrows Investment Fund (PVGIF) has financing available for equipment, working capital, startup expenses, and more. PVGIF is designed as an alternative for borrowers who may not qualify for more traditional bank financing.
MA COVID-19 Relief Fund – This fund will provide funding to non-profit organizations to support those across the state most impacted by this health crisis, including immigrants and undocumented residents, those facing food insecurity, and others.
MarketLink Program, Free SNAP card reader – If you sell at a farmers’ market or are a direct marketing farmer, you may qualify for a free card reader and a one-year subscription to TotilPay Go, which ensures accurate transactions by automatically matching SNAP-eligible items with the best payment method.