COVID-19 Resource Series | Agriculture



The Florida House Majority Office is publishing a series of sector-specific resource blog posts and downloadable documents to aid constituents in understanding the support available to them during the coronavirus crisis. This post contains information and resources about Florida agriculture. Download the PDF version here.

FEDERAL RESOURCES


USDA Flexibility on Crop Insurance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced new flexibility on crop insurance in response to COVID-19, which includes the following:

Farm Loans

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibility for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

Relaxing the Farm Loan-making process by:

  • Extending the deadline for applicants to complete farm loan applications.

  • Preparing Direct Loans documents even if FSA is unable to complete lien and record searches because of closed government buildings. Once those searches are complete, FSA would close the loan.

  • Closing loans if the required lien position on the primary security is perfected, even for loans that require additional security.

Servicing Direct Loans by:

  • Extending deadlines for producers to respond to loan-servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers.

  • Temporarily suspending loan accelerations, non-judicial foreclosures, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice.

Servicing Guaranteed Loans by:

· Allowing guarantee lenders to self-certify, providing their borrowers with subsequent-year operating loan advances on lines of credit and emergency advances on lines of credit.

FSA will consider guaranteed lender requests for:

Milk Dumping

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is ensuring that milk producers are not inappropriately penalized if their milk must be dumped because of recent market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, RMA is:

Conservation Planning and Programs

Producers can continue to apply for conservation programs and receive conservation planning assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) April 2020 Interest Rates

The following interest rates are in effect from April 1 to April 30, 2020:

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act provided $34.9 billion in funding for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies. This funding includes:

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

Provides $19 billion to farmers and ranchers:

  • $16 billion in direct support to farmers and ranchers based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted.

  • $3 billion in USDA purchase and distribution – USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food-service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat.

  • For more information, visit www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/04/17/usda-announces-coronavirus-food-assistance-program


H-2A Visa Information

FLORIDA RESOURCES


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Emergency Orders and Rules

  • In response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement allowing temporary flexibility for egg packaging and labeling, Emergency Order (EO) 2020-006 suspends department rules for 30 days that require packaging to have printed information such as date of pack, grade, and size. EO 2020-006 will give industry flexibility to meet increased consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • EO 2020-002 suspends, for 30 days, late fees on renewals for pest control, pesticide, fertilizer, and animal feed licenses. The EO also extends timeframes required for reporting and license renewal by 30 days.

  • EO 2020-003 suspends, for 30 days, late fees for renewals of the following permits and registrations: solicitors of charitable contributions, brake fluids, commercially used weights and measures, motor vehicle repair shops, and dealers of agricultural products.

  • Emergency Rule JER20-1 allows “winter blend” fuel to continue to be used to adjust to the current supply and demand for fuel.

  • To view a list of Emergency Orders and Rules, visit www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2020-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Nikki-Fried-Issues-Emergency-Orders-Rules-During-COVID-19

Efforts to Increase Purchase of Florida Products

FDACS has developed the Florida Farm to You Commodities List to help connect buyers with producers of Florida-grown commodities. Producers fill out an online form listing the commodity that is available, dates the commodity is available, quantity available, location, and contact information. This information is uploaded to the FDACS website, where buyers can then connect directly with producers.


- FDACS is working with national grocery retailers to encourage them to end purchase limits on milk at their stores as well as to stock their stores with Florida-grown products.


- FDACS is working to improve storage for excess milk and increase the number of refrigerated trucks transporting milk to retail stores to help keep stores stocked.


- FDACS has reached out to other state agencies in need of fresh food, such as the Florida Department of Corrections, to encourage them to directly purchase from Florida farmers.

- FDACS is redirecting “Fresh From Florida” marketing funds for trade shows to market agriculture commodities at risk of being lost.


- FDACS is currently working with the USDA to combat the illegal dumping of foreign products into U.S. markets.

Essential Food and Agriculture Workers

FDACS has provided a downloadable template for essential critical infrastructure worker proof of employment for travel to and from work and other duties as assigned for those in the food and agriculture industry.

Feeding Florida Program

Feeding Florida purchases cosmetically blemished produce from local agricultural producers through the Farmers Feeding Florida Program, which is funded by the state Legislature through the FDACS Food Recovery Program. Food recovered through this program is provided to households in need through Feeding Florida’s member food banks. ­

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