COVID-19 Update 

Iowa Poultry Association (IPA) recognizes the impacts of COVID-19, and the impacts on businesses.

We remind all members that the office in Urbandale is closed to visitors in our attempt to follow social distancing suggestions. You can still reach our staff via phone or email. If you'd like to reach a specific IPA staff member, please visit our contact us page online. No doubt our lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. We will get through this trying time together. I’m grateful to our first responders, health care professionals, farmers, food processors, truck drivers, and those working at our grocery stores. 

COVID-19 Links 

Unemployment/Paid Leave
Iowa Workforce Development
www.IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov

Small Business

SBA Paycheck Protection Program

Iowa Economic Development
https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/businessrecovery
Small Business Committee
Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act

US Small Business Administration Guidance & Loan Resources

The Iowa Department of Public Health has created an easy algorithm to help businesses screen employees and visitors at the door to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Health Screening Algorithm for Businesses

US Department of Agriculture
https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus
USDA Rural Development
https://rd.usda.gov/coronavirus

Iowa DNR COVID Page

State of Iowa COVID-19 Page  
https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/

Test Iowa Initative www.testiowa.com

CDC website at 
www.cdc.gov

While we're unsure if essential employees will be required to carry documentation showing they're an essential worker, we wanted to be prepared. Below is a sample word document, in card form, that will automatically download to your computer, and you can edit.

Sample Essential Agriculture Worker Card - Microsoft Word

We’ve also obtained a letter, if you would prefer to use this for your employees. Again, if you click the link, it will automatically download to your computer in word form, and you can edit.

Sample Essential Employee Letter- Microsoft Word

 Screening Signs for your workplace

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.

https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOL/bulletins/285f353

US Department of Housing and Urban Development
https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus
Healthcare -Energy and Commerce & Ways and Means Committees
FAQs: Health Care Provisions in H.R. 748, the CARES Act

SNAP/Hunger Assistance USDA Food Nutrition Service
https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19
House Agriculture Committee 
Coronavirus and Anti-Hunger Programs

Iowa Food Bank System Map

Payments to Individuals Internal Revenue Service (IRS) https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

Ways and Means Committee
Ways and Means Committee FAQ

Education/Student Loans US Department of Education
https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus
Veterans Affairs Public Health
https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/

Food Safety Article – ISU Extension and Outreach The ISU Extension and Outreach specialists said the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and the European Food Safety Authority are in full agreement that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. 

Food Safety Guidance - FDA  Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. The FDA has created a website to address frequently asked questions related to food production and processing facilities.

Iowa Export Services – Iowa Economic Development Authority - The Iowa Economic Development Authority issued an e-newsletter highlighting services the agency provides to help businesses continue their international marketing efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak. These resources include global market research and international marketing grants.

Blood Donations Needed: The US Surgeon General is still encouraging everyone who can to donate blood. LifeServe Blood Center locations can be found here. Your blood donation to LifeServe stays in your area, supporting hospitals in Iowa. 

The CDC has released new guidance entitled “Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html

 Outbreak guidance for businesses - NEW - Wednesday, April, 8 the IDPH released new guidance for businesses who are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. IDPH recommends that businesses implement measures to enable social distancing as much as possible. IDPH asks that you report if 10% or more of your employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or any other respiratory symptom). Use this survey to file a report with IDPH.
Criteria for COVID-19 testing through the State Hygienic Lab Due to the current testing capacity, a person must meet certain criteria to be tested for COVID-19 at the State Hygienic Lab. Healthcare providers can test patients, as they deem appropriate, at national reference laboratories. Isolation guidance for potentially exposed and symptomatic Iowans The IDPH recommends that sick Iowans stay home and isolate themselves from others in their houses. Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19 will experience only a mild to moderate illness. Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19.
USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 - WASHINGTON, April 8, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders. 

Iowa Resource Coordination Center - A resource for Iowa livestock farmers in need

The Resource Coordination Center includes livestock industry experts, state agencies and technical specialists who are here to connect you with technical and financial resources as you work through difficult and emotional decisions, including animal welfare euthanasia and disposal.
https://data.iowaagriculture.gov/rcc/

 The Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) has launched the “COVID Recovery Iowa” program to help producers, meatpacking plant workers, small business owners, healthcare workers, and others on the front lines of the pandemic, deal with emotional and financial stress. View the pdf about COVID Recovery Iowa here.

 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will continue to offer the virtual Question.Persuade.Refer. (QPR) classes through July.   

For more information and updates  go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR.  Additionally, they will begin offering virtual “Stress on the Farm: Strategies that Help” programs also in July.  This is a short stress management program that focuses on stressors related to COVID-19. 

6/26/19 Update

State of Iowa Updates  

  • Gov. Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration - DES MOINES - June 25 - Today, Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation extends the public health mitigation measures that are currently in place, including the requirement to maintain social distancing in bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and similar venues. And it extends many of the regulatory relief measures previously implemented. The State Public Health Emergency Declaration is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, 2020. The full proclamation is online in its entirety.
  • The Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) has launched the “COVID Recovery Iowa” program to help producers, meatpacking plant workers, small business owners, healthcare workers, and others on the front lines of the pandemic, deal with emotional and financial stress. View the pdf about COVID Recovery Iowa here.

    IDHS is partnering with Abbe Center for Community Mental Health Inc., Heartland Family Service, ISU Extension, Pathways Behavioral Sciences and the University of Iowa to provide recovery resources, including:

    • Confidential counseling through the Iowa Concern Hotline
    • Virtual group activities, including yoga and cooking
    • Discussions about how COVID-19 has changed the workplace
    • Strategies to deal with stress — or help others dealing with stress — on the farm
    • How to avoid burnout and self-care tips
    • Question. Persuade. Refer. (QPR) suicide prevention training
    • Mental health first aid
    • Family financial consultations
    • Farm financial planning

These services are free to all Iowans and are funded by a FEMA SAMHSA grant. Please share these resources with your employees and members.  To learn more, visit covidrecoveryiowa.org or contact Jason Haglund at [email protected].

  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will continue to offer the virtual Question.Persuade.Refer. (QPR) classes through July.   For more information and updates  go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR.  Additionally, they will begin offering virtual “Stress on the Farm: Strategies that Help” programs also in July.  This is a short stress management program that focuses on stressors related to COVID-19.  More details will be sent out next week.  

National Updates

  • Joint Statement from USDA and FDA on Food Export Restrictions Pertaining to COVID-19

    Washington, D.C., June 24, 2020 - Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., issued the following statement regarding food export restrictions pertaining to COVID-19: "The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times. However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission.”

“There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.” 

  • Pandemic Best Practices, Sanitation Safety and More to Be Covered at the 2020 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry  - The poultry industry is constantly affected by change, and this year has been no exception. However, one thing is certain – employee safety remains a top priority. Each year, poultry and egg industry safety professionals convene at the National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry to discuss best practices to ensure the continuous safety of their employees. This year’s Conference is scheduled for Aug. 10-12 at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Destin, Florida. The conference is sponsored by the Georgia Tech Research Institute/ATRP and USPOULTRY. Be sure to register today!  Click here for full article 

6/19/20 Update

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Governor Reynolds signs Senate File 2338 into law that gives businesses and health care providers new liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits. Read the full bill here.
  • Governor Reynolds signs Executive Order 6 establishing the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board - Governor Kim Reynolds signed an Executive Order establishing the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The advisory board will be led by Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems and it will focus on modernizing Iowa’s economy as well as education, health care, workforce and quality of life. 

    “Iowa’s success has always been about turning obstacles into opportunities,” said Gov. Reynolds. “The Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board assembles an impressive group of business leaders to propel our recovery efforts forward and position Iowa for growth. Iowans will be at the center of this effort as we continue to make our state the best place to live, work and raise a family. I want to thank Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation for his willingness to serve as the chair and appreciate all those serving on this advisory board.”  The governor’s full remarks from the press conference can be viewed here.

National Updates

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has answered six frequently asked questions about the use of masks in the workplace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 National Emergency – For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating  https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19

     

The attached waiver is effective July 1, 2020 and expires on September 30, 2020.  The attached Notice of Enforcement Policy for States in which FMCSA does not have legal authority to extend waiver has been extended to September 30, 2020 also.

To respond to this unique event and to continue the ability of intrastate and interstate CDL and CLP holders and interstate non-CDL drivers to transport goods in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, this waiver:

  • Extends until September 30, 2020, the maximum period of CDL validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(b)(9) and 383.73(d)(6) for CDLs due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Extends until September 30, 2020, the maximum period of CLP validity by waiving 49 CFR 383.73(a)(2)(iii) and 383.25(c) for CLPs that are due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.25(e) that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 391.45 that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non- CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance (as defined in 49 CFR 390.5T such as an exemption letter or a skill performance evaluation certificate) that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer and that expired on or after March 1, 2020. 
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.71(h)(3) that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the State Driver Licensing Agency with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirement under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(2) that the State Driver Licensing Agency change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Waives the requirements under 49 CFR 383.73(o)(4) that the State Driver Licensing Agency initiate a CDL or CLP downgrade upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance, provided that the CDL or CLP holders have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • In accordance with 49 CFR 383.23(a)(1) and 391.41(a)(1)(i), FMCSA continues to recognize the validity of commercial driver’s licenses issued by Canadian Provinces and Territories and Licencias Federales de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States, in accordance with 49 CFR part 383, when such jurisdictions issue a similar notice or declaration extending the validity date of the medical examination and certification and/or validity of the corresponding commercial driver’s license due to interruption to government service resulting from COVID-19.

States, CDL holders, CLP holders, and interstate non-CDL CMV drivers are covered under this waiver without further action.

6/12/2020 Update

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation, effective at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, June 12, 2020, continues to ease restrictions on businesses and extends other public measures until Thursday, June 25, 2020.  It still encourages all vulnerable Iowans, in all counties, to continue to limit their activities outside of the home.  The full proclamation can be read here.
  • State of Iowa announces five new Test Iowa sites - DES MOINES - Test Iowa will further expand access to COVID-19 testing with new sites opening this week, including one in Dallas County to better serve the Des Moines metro area, and four clinic sites in rural communities.Visit testiowa.com and schedule an appointment online to be tested.

Individuals who wish to get tested at any clinic site or drive up test site must first complete the online assessment at testiowa.com. They will then be directed to call the clinic to schedule an appointment. Test Iowa is a statewide initiative to expand COVID-19 testing. Locations and hours of operation for all test sites can be found at testiowa.com or coronavirus.iowa.gov.

  • Given the demand for the “Question.Persuade.Refer. (QPR)” suicide prevention gatekeeper trainings that were offered in April and May, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be offering five additional virtual QPR programs beginning Tuesday, June 16.  QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

    Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. 
     
    ISU Extension and Outreach will offer QPR at a variety of dates to meet the busy schedules of those in high risk professions.  Each program will last for one hour. Those dates and times are as follows:

    ·         Tuesday, June 16 at 12 p.m.     ·         Thursday, June 18 at 12 p.m.

    ·         Tuesday, June 23 at 12 p.m.     ·         Thursday, June 25 at 12 p.m.

    ·         Tuesday, June 30 at 12 p.m.

    Agriculture producers and agribusiness professionals can register at NO cost for any of these programs. To register, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR. Participants will receive a unique URL prior to the program to access the Zoom hosted program. For more information, feel free to contact me at [email protected].   

National Updates

  • The President signed the bipartisan House-passed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act that the Senate then proceeded to approve. Only 1.5% of current PPP funds have gone to those in agriculture. The act makes changes to the popular small business loan program that will provide borrowers with greater flexibility for the forgiveness of their loans. Read more here. 
  • Due to the continuing national emergency, FMCSA has extended the Emergency Declaration (with modification) that was previously set to expire on June 14, 2020.  The Declaration has now been modified and the modified Declaration is effective June 15, 2020 and expires on July 14, 2020 (or until revocation of the Presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency, whichever is sooner.  A copy of the modified Declaration can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19.

    The extension of 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; and (3) 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

    Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief Extension and Modification of Expanded Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.  FMCSA has concluded that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to the other categories of supplies, equipment, and persons covered by the May 13 extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, and those categories are therefore no longer covered.

6/5/2020 Update

We are pleased to announce Iowa leaders have sent a letter to the USDA, asking for CFAP funds for egg producers. We have met with all of these leaders, expressing the dire need for our egg producers to be included. Read the letter in its entirety here.

“We are grateful to the Trump administration and USDA for the relief the CFAP has provided to our crop and livestock producers,” said Secretary Naig. “Egg producers should also be included in the program since they have been greatly impacted and play a key role in our food supply and state economy. We must support them throughout these ongoing market disruptions.”

State of Iowa Updates 

  • The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working with state and local officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and has transitioned employees to work remotely. DNR offices are closed to the public during this time and only available by appointment. In another effort to further reduce the spread of COVID-19, the DNR is encouraging the use of the online services for submitting applications, payments and other daily tasks and interaction with DNR staff.  Full list of DNR’s online services 

National Updates

  • CDC and OSHA released on Wednesday, 6/3/2020 joint Interim Guidance for Agriculture Workers and EmployersThis guidance provides a template of action to protect agriculture workers from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Agricultural employers can adapt these recommendations to protect workers at their particular work sites or in specific work operations. The guidance provides useful guidance on practices around cloth face coverings, shared housing, and shared transportation.
  • USDA Rural Development released its Business and Industry Cares Act Working Capital Guaranteed loan program.  Additional information regarding the program can be found at the program website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/business-and-industry-cares-act-program One of the unique components to the program is that we are now able to guarantee working capital loans to ag producers and businesses as long as the loan amount exceeds the FSA loan approval authority or is otherwise ineligible for FSA programs.  An overview of the program can be downloaded here.

  • USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 - WASHINGTON, June 3, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America. View the full stakeholder announcement.

  • USDA and Federal Partners Offer COVID-19 Resources for Rural Communities  The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address the pandemic.

5/29/2020 Update

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Farm Security! Recent activities by Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) have focused on Iowa, and in particular, Iowa’s pork industry. DXE is paying special attention to the state to take advantage of current circumstances involving the depopulation of hogs. DXE has members on the ground in Iowa and all farms and processing plants should be on high alert that they may be targeted in an attempt to capture video footage and cause a disruption to normal business activity. 

  •  5/26  - Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency until June 25, 2020. The proclamation extends regulatory relief to those affected by this public health emergency until June 25.  

  • From Iowa Rural Development Council - Today is the last day for businesses to respond to the latest IEDA/UNI Survey on COVID-19 impacts. The information gleaned in this second survey will do much to help the state, local and regional developers, and service providers/partners help drive the recovery from the pandemic. But the deadline is TODAY!


National Updates

 

5/22/2020 Update

State of Iowa Updates 

  • REMINDER TO FOCUS ON FARM SECURITY! In an email from an Iowa farm, they informed us that animal activists gained entry to a farm and "proceeded to taunt, harass, and videotape our team members. It is disappointing that these individuals would try to use what is a profoundly difficult time to undermine the mission of every farmer." We encourage you to maintain a high alert status on security, and reach out to us if something seems amiss. 

  • Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program announcement . “COVID-19 has disrupted the entire food supply chain and the agriculture community is hurting,” said Secretary Naig. “We are grateful to the Trump administration and the USDA for acting quickly and providing some immediate financial relief to crop and livestock producers. There’s still more work to do to help egg and ethanol producers, and to help livestock producers who are facing the impossible decision to euthanize animals due to supply chain and processing plant disruptions.

  • Five Steps to Formulate Workforce Contingency Plans in the COVID-19 Setting - As the coronavirus spreads to rural America, farms as well as other agricultural and rural employers must establish labor supply contingency plans. Read the guide from Iowa State University Extension here.

  • Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits summer school activities, including baseball and softball, to resume on June 1.  Effective today, Movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums, and wedding reception venues will be permitted to reopen with appropriate public health measures in place. Swimming pools will also be permitted to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons.

    Governor Reynolds also announced that next Thursday, May 28, bars and other alcohol-related establishments that have been limited to carryout and delivery will be permitted to reopen for indoor or outdoor seating. These establishments will follow the same public health measures that restaurants have been implementing for the past several weeks. 

National Updates

  • The CDC has developed two fact sheets with easy-to-read strategies for employers and employees to prevent COVID-19 infection. Please find the forms here. Employer Form Employee Form
  • HEROES Act passes in House Last week, the House voted 208-199 to pass the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), with 14 Democrats voting against and one Republican (Rep. Peter King) voting for the bill. The $3 trillion bill vote was along party lines, and it’s not clear what the path is for bipartisan agreement. 

    There are two provisions of interest to egg producers. The first gives the USDA Secretary the authority to make payments to livestock producers who have suffered market losses due to COVID-19. Read more from UEP here. 

  • USPOULTRY will hold Joint Safety & Health zoom meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd, at 1:30 Central. If you're interested in attending, please email Sarah at [email protected] for the log in information. 

  • USDA to Provide $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees for Rural Businesses and Ag Producers WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the Department is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program provisions included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To read the full release, including links to webinars, click here. 

  • From Brown Winick Law Firm: Late Friday the 15th, the SBA released much-anticipated guidance regarding the forgiveness component of Paycheck Protection Program loans SBA and Treasury Release Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application The guidance includes the forgiveness worksheet that borrowers will be required to fill out as well as information on the types of documentation that borrowers will need to maintain for purposes of supporting their claims for loan forgiveness. 

5/15/2020 Update

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has formed a Resource Coordination Center (RCC) to support Iowa livestock producers affected by the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. COVID-19 outbreaks in the workforce are causing many meat processing facilities to run below normal operating capacity. That’s creating challenges for producers who are trying to convert livestock to food products. https://iowaagriculture.gov/news/idals-launches-resource-coordination-center   OR  www.iowafarmerhelp.com   OR  (515) 725-1005 during business hours.

  • Gov. Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration - DES MOINES - Governor Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits salons, barbershops, and massage and tattoo establishments to reopen throughout Iowa in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place. It also permits restaurants (but not bars), fitness centers, libraries, and race tracks to reopen in the 22 counties where they have remained closed. These changes are effective at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, May 15.

    The proclamation continues the other ongoing closures and public health measures, including the prohibition on social, community, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people, until 11:59 p.m. on May 27, 2020.  Read the full proclamation here.

National Updates

  • USDA Offers Farm Loans for Farmers Facing COVID-19 Related Challenges  - DES MOINES, IOWA, May 7, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that FSA offers farm ownership and farm operating loans to agricultural producers who may not find success obtaining loans from their traditional financial institutions because of COVID-19. Farmers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank can apply for FSA direct or guaranteed loans. For more information on FSA’s farm loan programs, please contact your local FSA office or visit farmers.gov.
  • Congress seeks FEMA aid for livestock depopulation - In a letter to Trump, lawmakers say states need federal aid to help depopulate and dispose of animals during COVID-19 pandemic. Several members of Congress have asked President Donald Trump to provide guidance on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can help farmers depopulate and dispose of livestock as meat processing plants have closed during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Read more here. 

  • USDA/NRCS have dollars allocated to livestock (and poultry) producers to help defray costs associated with animal mortality disposal, resulting from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for the fact sheet that focuses more on swine, but the numbers (pounds of animals) also apply to poultry. One thousand (1,000) pounds equals one animal unit. The conservation program application can be found here. The waiver form can be found herePlease don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or directly to NRCS should you have questions or needs for clarification.

5/8/2020 Update

In this update: Special report on egg prices from the Egg Industry Center, continued public health disaster emergency, meetings with Senators Ernst and Grassley, USDA offers farm loans for farmers facing COVID-19 related challenges, OSHA resources, media statement/talking points, SBA loan information for agribusiness, and egg pricing lawsuits.

IPA has created a COVID-19 specific page, that includes all of our updates. We encourage you to use this page as a reference point. We will continue to update this page, as well as our links information. 

If you have any specific concerns on an issue that IPA is not already addressing, please feel free to reach out to us, and share your issues and concerns. I am in contact with Secretary Naig, Governor Reynolds, USDA, and our US Senators' and Representatives' offices, and can serve as your liaison to our elected officials. 

  • On Monday, we learned that eggs were not part of the announced USDA food purchases in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. We then reached out to USDA and both Senators’ offices, and since with Congressional offices, related to this and expressing our disappointment. We are concerned with this announcement, but still hold some optimism that we might encourage USDA to reconsider or compensate egg farmers in other ways.
  • We also heard from one of their offices that they were led to believe that eggs “would” be a part of the final direct payment option, and that the direct payments would be available to farmers across 180 commodities. 

We're all in this together. Please stay healthy, take care of yourself, your family, and your employees. 

Kevin Stiles

New information that is also on our COVID-19 page is posted below. 

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Gov. Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation permits dental services to resume in compliance with guidelines adopted by the Iowa Dental Board, permits some additional businesses and establishments to reopen throughout Iowa in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place, and provides additional regulatory relief to assist Iowans affected by this disaster. The full proclamation is available here 

  • Last Thursday and this past Monday, IPA hosted calls with Senators Ernst and Grassley. Both were very engaged and we were very pleased by the involvement of our egg producers and the personal stories they shared. Since these calls, both offices have stepped up and made outreach to USDA and their colleagues on the Hill. Please click here to review  a release issued by Senator Ernst, which demonstrates her office’s understanding of the importance of this issue for our egg community.

National Updates

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that FSA offers farm ownership and farm operating loans to agricultural producers who may not find success obtaining loans from their traditional financial institutions because of COVID-19.Farmers who cannot obtain commercial credit from a bank can apply for FSA direct or guaranteed loans. Read the full release here. 
  • OSHA has shared the PDF file of resources they have shared over the last several weeks on OSHA’s webpage and those of several other agencies and organizations.  They have included a list of general COVID-19 resources grouped by the agency and additional industry-specific COVID-19 resources grouped by industry.  It is intended as a resource and is not comprehensive. 
  • In addition to the recent (Egg) Price Gouging lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General, and other lawsuits in California, etc., we have learned that litigation is also underway in the beef industry. We expect to see more of these lawsuits in the coming weeks as supply is weakened and prices rise.

5/1/2020 Update

This week, members and staff met via teleconference with Senator Ernst, and shared the issues facing poultry and egg producers in our state. Shortly after our call, Senator Ernst's staff shared a letter they drafted, to send to the USDA. We also have a teleconference with Senator Grassley scheduled for next week. 

State of Iowa Updates 

  • Gov. Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration - Gov. Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration until May 27, 2020. The proclamation loosens social distancing measures in 77 Iowa counties effective Friday, May 1 and continues other restrictions until 11:50 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2020. Read the full release here.
  •  Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Launches Resource Coordination Center to Assist Livestock Producers - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has formed a Resource Coordination Center (RCC) to support Iowa livestock producers affected by the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. COVID-19 outbreaks in the workforce are causing many meat processing facilities to run below normal operating capacity. That’s creating challenges for producers who are trying to convert livestock to food products. Iowa livestock producers can call the RCC at (515) 725-1005, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., or fill out a help form anytime at iowafarmerhelp.com.

    COVID-19 has caused supply chain disruptions that are forcing producers to make emotional and stressful decisions. If producers are feeling overwhelmed, they can call the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 to get free, confidential support, 24/7.
  • For companies and employers that have had some or all of their employees working from home, insurance broker Holmes Murphy hosted a live webinar on Thursday with tips and best practices for employers to consider when developing their return-to-work plan. From a risk-management perspective — as well as being the right thing to do — employers are going to want to take every precaution to ensure that they’re not exposing their workers to unnecessary risks when they return to work, the experts said.  To view the webinar, click here.

National Updates

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have clarified the eligibility rules for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and determined that agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers are eligible for PPP loans. Click here for a fact sheet.
  • USDA To Implement President Trump’s Executive Order On Meat and Poultry Processors- April 28, 2020- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order to keep meat and poultry processing facilities open during the COVID-19 national emergency. Read the full release here.
  •  From USPOULTRY & Egg -  Please see below for the following information that FSIS released  related to guidance for plants to facilitate ongoing operations while mitigating the risk of spreading COVID 19.   Although this information is directed to meat and poultry plants, it will be helpful to you as you continue your operations of egg facilities.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have issued guidance specific to the meat and poultry processing industry in order to facilitate ongoing operations and support the food supply, while also mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19.  

USDA strongly recommends establishments utilize the recommendations in the guidance document where practical, recognizing that how they are implemented may differ given the unique circumstances of establishments and processing facilities nationwide. In the event of a closure, establishments should work with the state departments of agriculture and state and local health authorities, in coordination with CDC, to utilize the guidance and develop a plan to safely resume operations as soon as possible. 

These guidelines were developed recognizing that these establishments and their operations are critical to the security of the nation’s food supply. Steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should remain in place throughout the pandemic and to the extent that companies must reduce or alter capacity, split shifts, or add additional processing days to implement the CDC and DOL recommendations, FSIS remains committed to ensuring that food safety regulations are met.

  • STAKEHOLDER ANNOUNCEMENT: USDA Leadership from Farm Production And Conservation and Rural Development Update Stakeholders On Accessing SBA Relief Programs - (April 24, 2020) USDA’s Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand today held a joint announcement to provide guidance from the respective agencies on the resources provided in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (HR.266) recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. | Stakeholder Announcement
  • USDA Coronavirus Website - Visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information on USDA services and resources. This page include frequently asked questions, USDA actions to respond to COVID-19, and additional resources from CDC, FEMA, and other agencies. Learn more about the latest actions from USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Rural Development, and other agencies. 
  • USDA and Federal Partners Offer COVID-19 Resources for Rural Communities - The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address the pandemic.

4/24/20 Update

State of Iowa Updates

  • Gov. Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration Gov. Reynolds signed a new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration. The proclamation permits health care providers to begin the process of resuming some elective surgeries and procedures through a phased approach, permits farmers markets to begin limited operations with appropriate public health precautions, and provides other relief to Iowans affected by this disaster. Read the full proclamation below or online here 
  • Governor Kim Reynolds launched the Test Iowa Initiative to expand testing capacity to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. She also kicked off the #TestIowaChallenge in a video encouraging Iowans to go to testIowa.com and complete the assessment. The  #TestIowaChallenge encourages all Iowans regardless of symptoms to take the assessment and get tested if needed. Those part of the essential workforce are especially encouraged to take the assessment and then get tested if needed. 
  • Iowa Poultry Association was tagged by Secretary Mike Naig to help spread the word about the#TestIowaChallenge. IDALS shared a powerpoint to assist us in sharing information. Our team created a video and shared on social media to encourage our members take the challenge. View the video here. 
  • Iowa Concern/211 Hotlines 

     The ISU Extension call center manages the Iowa Concern Hotline and 211 calls for 25 counties in central Iowa. It’s also part of the statewide 211 network with United Way. Iowans can call 24/7 to speak with individuals who are trained to address legal, financial and emotional concerns. The consultations are free and confidential.  ISU Extension provided some call center statistics, which may provide some insights into how Iowans are coping with COVID-19. The state is encouraging individuals to call 211 for assistance, which is likely why calls have spiked on that network.
  • Iowa Concern Calls

March 2019: 489 calls - March 2020: 305 Calls

  • Agricultural calls: 20
  • Financial calls: 8
  • General stress: 130
  • Legal calls: 103
  • Other: 44

April 2019: 532 calls - April 2020: 272 as of 4/22/2020

211 calls

March 2019: 850 calls - March 2020: 3,508

April 2019: 681 - April 2020: 1,879 as of 4/22/2020

  • Farm Financial Planning Program ISU Extension’s Farm Financial Planning Program offers one-on-one financial counseling, a computerized analysis of farm businesses, and referrals to other Extension or third-party services that may be useful. These services are free to producers and can help them expand their operations, prepare for mediation, file bankruptcy or restructure debt. More information is available at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/farmanalysis/.
  • Essential Worker Status Documentation The COVID-19 outbreak has caused some states to close non-essential businesses and ask residents to stay home as much as possible. While these orders vary by state, some farmers and agribusinesses are concerned that their employees may encounter challenges traveling to work or completing essential duties without documentation. ISU Extension has created an “Essential Worker Status Documentation” template that farmers and businesses can customize for their employees. 

National Updates

  • OSHA has released a resource of all of its resources and guidance documents released since the outbreak of COVID-19. Click here to view the pdf.

4/17/20 Update 

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a Memorandum on Discretion in Enforcement when Considering an Employer’s Good Faith Efforts During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, which will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice.  In light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, OSHA understands that some employers may face difficulties complying with OSHA standards due to the ongoing health emergency.  Widespread business closures, restrictions on travel, limitations on group sizes, facility visitor prohibitions, and stay-at-home or shelter-in-place requirements may limit the availability of employees, consultants, or contractors who normally provide training, auditing, equipment inspections, testing, and other essential safety and industrial hygiene services.  During the course of an inspection, OSHA Area Offices will assess an employer's efforts to comply with standards that require annual or recurring audits, reviews, training, or assessments, and evaluate whether the employer has made good faith efforts to comply with applicable OSHA standards and, in situations where compliance was not possible, to ensure that employees were not exposed to hazards from tasks, processes, or equipment for which they were not prepared or trained.  The guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.
  • The IRS has sent out the stimulus checks to those who filed taxes and have bank information on file. They have created an Economic Impact Payment Information Center page you can view here. You can also check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment here
  • Tuesday, 4/14/2020 - Today, the state of Iowa has released an updated dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov that will be updated daily to include comprehensive tracking of COVID-19 in Iowa. The new dashboard includes cases, deaths, and tests conducted in each county. The state will also be providing demographic information that was not previously provided as well as Iowa’s epidemiological curve. 
  • USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 *Updated April 15, 2020* WASHINGTON, April 15, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.  Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have publicly stated that currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Read their full statements on food safety below: CDC Statement | USDA Guidelines

  • Due to the demand for the on-line Question.Persuade.Refer. (QPR) suicide prevention training, we have added an additional four programs in May.  Again, just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.   ISU Extension and Outreach will continue to offer QPR at a variety of dates and times to meet the busy schedules of the agribusiness community. Each on-line program will last for one hour. Those dates and times are as follows: 
·     Tuesday, April 28 at 12 p.m.       ·     Wednesday, April 29 at 10 a.m.
·     Tuesday, May 5 at 12 p.m.          ·     Wednesday, May 6 at 10 a.m.
·     Tuesday, May 12 at 12 p.m.        ·     Wednesday, May 13 at 10 a.m.   

 

·     Tuesday, May 19 at 12 p.m.         ·     Wednesday, May 20 at 10 a.m.   

 

Agribusiness professionals, agriculture lenders and bankers, veterinarians, vet techs, commodity group members and producers can register at NO cost for any of these programs. To register, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR.  Unique URL Zoom links will be sent to registered participants prior to each program. For more information, feel free to contact me at [email protected].  For resources to use during the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit our Finding Answers Now page(www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/disaster-recovery).

 

  • Best Practices for PPP Loan Participants - Information from Brown Winick Law Firm - Many of you have received funds under the Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP"). Congratulations - we hope those funds help you through these difficult times! We have identified some best-practices for ensuring compliance with the PPP. Below are high points. Additionally, new regulations are coming out, and we will be posting more about those on our website www.brownwinick.com. We hope this information is helpful to you in maximizing the benefits of PPP.   
  • Once the applicant receives the loan, those funds are eligible for forgiveness based on use on qualifying expenses over the next eight weeks. In eight weeks, the recipient will need to demonstrate to the SBA and its lender how the funds were spent on qualifying expenses (i.e. payroll, rent, interest on mortgage debt and utilities).
  •   During these eight weeks, it is critical that recipients document accurately and in an organized manner all use of forgivable funds.
  •   Recipients should consider opening a separate account exclusively for PPP funds. This will assist in tracking payments to qualifying expenses.
  •   Recipients will also need to provide documentation verifying the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll as well as the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight week period following the loan disbursement.
  •   Since non-payroll expenses cannot exceed 25% of the forgivable portion of the loan, recipients should separate and record payments to payroll versus non-payroll expenses.
  •   Recipients should consider implementing a system whereby any use of PPP funds includes date, time, amount, and forgivable purpose.
  •   Additionally, recipients should maintain records of COVID-19's overall impact on the ongoing operations of the business, which will support claims of the indispensability of the loan.

4/10/20 Update

The CDC has released new guidance entitled “Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/critical-workers/implementing-safety-practices.html

COVID-19 Screening signs

Outbreak guidance for businesses - NEW - Wednesday, the IDPH released new guidance for businesses who are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. IDPH recommends that businesses implement measures to enable social distancing as much as possible. IDPH asks that you report if 10% or more of your employees are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, or any other respiratory symptom). Use this survey to file a report with IDPH.

Criteria for COVID-19 testing through the State Hygienic Lab Due to the current testing capacity, a person must meet certain criteria to be tested for COVID-19 at the State Hygienic Lab. Healthcare providers can test patients, as they deem appropriate, at national reference laboratories.

Isolation guidance for potentially exposed and symptomatic Iowans The IDPH recommends that sick Iowans stay home and isolate themselves from others in their houses. Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19 will experience only a mild to moderate illness. Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19.

April 3, 2020 - FDA Provides Temporary Flexibility Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold to Consumers by Retail Food Establishments During COVID-19 Pandemic 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released a guidance document, Temporary Policy Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold by Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide temporary flexibility regarding the packaging and labeling of shell eggs sold to consumers in retail food establishments. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer demand for shell eggs sold at retail has increased.  Additional shell eggs for consumers are available, but appropriately labeled retail packaging is not available for all such shell eggs.  Some of the available eggs are in flats, which typically hold 30 eggs and are normally sold to institutions and restaurants and are not labeled.  Other available eggs could be placed in cartons, but appropriately labeled cartons are not available for all such eggs.  To meet the increased demand for shell eggs in light of the limited availability of retail packaging, we are providing temporary flexibility regarding certain packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs.

To facilitate the distribution of shell eggs during the pandemic, FDA does not intend to object to the sale by retail food establishments of shell eggs in cartons or flats without labels, provided: 

·     The retail food establishment displays clearly at the point of purchase (for example, on a counter card, sign, tag affixed to the product, or some other appropriate device) the following information:

· Statement of identity 

· The name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor, and

· Safe handling instructions for shell eggs that have not been processed (such as by pasteurization) to destroy all Salmonella.

·     If shell eggs from multiple suppliers are offered for sale at the same time and in the same location, it is clear to consumers which point of sale labeling applies to which of the shell eggs that are offered for sale. 

·     The shell eggs are sold by the complete carton or flat

·     There are no nutrition claims at the point of purchase for the shell eggs.  

This policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  However, as availability of packing and labeling materials improves, we encourage industry to resume full labeling as soon as is practical.

Private pesticide applicator online testing  As part of the ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Department will temporarily allow individuals to take the private applicator test online for the duration of the State Public Health Emergency. Individuals can sign-up to take the private pesticide applicator test here.

Agricultural producers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact your lender ASAP if you are interested in participating.  

White House wants $250B more for PPP - President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are promising to fix the application process for the Paycheck Protection Program and make sure that banks can participate and that small businesses get the money they need. The White House is seeking an additional $250 billion for the forgivable loans on top of the $350 billion that was in the Phase 3 economic stimulus bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants to pass the additional funding by unanimous consent or voice vote on Thursday. A House vote could come Friday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN she wanted to make sure PPP wouldn’t “solidify inequality.” 

Keep in mind: Interest among farmers in PPP remains high, but they continue to struggle to apply for the program.

“While we believe that it is clear that farmers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for the PPP loans, we continue to get reports that farmers are being told otherwise, by bankers, accountants and in some cases state SBA offices themselves,” said Veronica Nigh, an economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. She added it “would be helpful if SBA could provide a plain language statement that would put this question to rest.”

By the way: AFBF on Tuesday published a fresh analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers. 

It is not clear whether producers will be eligible for the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). After encouragement from ICA, Iowa's congressional delegation signed on to a letter advocating for farmers to be able to take advantage of these loans.

There have been reports from across the country of farm and plant disruptions due to employees infected, or fear of being affected with, with COVID-19. Unfortunately, it appears that this will be an ongoing issue.

Iowa DOT guidance:  CDL holders can continue to operate even if their license expires or their medical examiner's certificate expires. Restricted CDLs for agricultural inputs are being issues remotely.  

Suicide Prevention Program: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be offering seven online “Question. Persuade. Refer.” programs beginning Tuesday, April 14.  QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 - WASHINGTON, April 8, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders. 

Effective Immediately through May 16, 2020: USDA APHIS Allows Copies of Veterinary Health Certificate in ACE-DIS for Shipment Clearance due to COVID-19 Pandemic- The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recognizes the unprecedented challenge that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic poses to trade. To alleviate impact on  animal origin commodities imports, APHIS provides the following interim guidance to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists assigned to review required import information for animal products and by-products regulated by USDA APHIS. This guidance replaces previous editions that were communicated with CBP.

CBP’s agriculture specialists may accept all import documents  including veterinary certificates  uploaded to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)-Document Image System (DIS) regardless of disease status of the exporting country. ACE is the United States’ single window customs system used by CBP to collect information on imports (import declarations). ACE manages DIS to collect scans of documents and requires specific customs brokerage software. Acceptable import documents include veterinary certificates and supporting documents for veterinary import permit requirements.

USDA APHIS continues to require original hard copy veterinary health certificates under the following conditions:

  • Shipments of high risk products:
    • Bovine serum: fetal bovine serum, newborn calf serum, calf serum, donor bovine serum, adult bovine serum from all countries, and
    • Fresh and/or frozen meat and poultry from all countries in situations when the original hard copy veterinary health certificate has not been provided to USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS); if the original certificate has been provided to FSIS, CBP agriculture specialists may accept a copy of the certificate uploaded to ACE-DIS.

Shipments arriving in the United States without a veterinary health certificate, either original or copy uploaded into ACE-DIS, will be refused entry or held until the required documents are received. If there is reason to believe a certificate uploaded into ACE-DIS is fraudulent, CBP retains the shipment on hold until the original hard copy veterinary health certificate is reviewed.

This guidance is effective for shipments arriving through May 16, 2020.

APHIS will continue to evaluate the situation and provide updated guidance as appropriate.

For information about importing products related to COVID 19 testing, please visit our website.

For any questions regarding import of animal products and by-products, please contact Animal Product Imports at 301-851-3300, option 4 or send an email to [email protected].

4/3/20 Update 

4/2/2020 Governor Reynolds signs new proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration.

Essential Worker Documents - While we're unsure if essential employees will be required to carry documentation showing they're an essential worker, we wanted to be prepared. Below is a sample word document, in card form, that will automatically download to your computer, and you can edit. Sample Essential Agriculture Worker Card

We’ve also obtained a letter, if you would prefer to use this for your employees. Again, if you click the link, it will automatically download to your computer in word form, and you can edit.  Sample Essential Employee Letter

Iowa Export Services – Iowa Economic Development Authority - The Iowa Economic Development Authority issued an e-newsletter highlighting services the agency provides to help businesses continue their international marketing efforts during the COVID-19 outbreak. These resources include global market research and international marketing grants.

The Department of Transportation also has a page dedicated to COVID-19 information and resources that is located at: https://www.transportation.gov/coronavirus.

RESTRICTED CDLs - The Iowa Department of Transportation is now issuing Restricted Commercial Drivers Licenses remotely.   

If you need to obtain a restricted commercial driver’s license, please email the CDL Program administrators (preferred method) at [email protected], or call your local DOT Service Center.  

To limit the number of people who come into the service centers and reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Transportation will be reviewing applications and issuing restricted commercial driver’s licenses remotely and mailing them out to these customers.   

Iowa DOT COVID-19 site: https://iowadot.gov/covid-19/Public-Response#cdlholders 

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Offering More Options to Help Pesticide Applicators Get Certified - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is offering regulatory relief to help first-time pesticide applicators get certified during the 2020 growing season. This comes after the Department and its testing partners canceled several large, in-person testing sessions based on the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC. To read the release, click here.

Suicide Prevention Program - In response to the additional unpredictability the COVID-19 pandemic poses for the agriculture community, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be offering seven online “Question. Persuade. Refer.” programs beginning Tuesday, April 14.  QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.   
 
ISU Extension and Outreach will offer QPR at a variety of dates and times to meet the busy schedules of the agribusiness community. Each program will last for one hour. Those dates and times are as follows:

·         Tuesday, April 14, at 12 p.m.                  ·         Wednesday, April 15 at 10 a.m.
·         Tuesday, April 21 at 12 p.m.
·         Tuesday, April 28 at 12 p.m.                   ·         Wednesday, April 29 at 10 a.m.
·         Tuesday, May 5 at 12 p.m.                      ·         Wednesday, May 6 at 10 a.m.   

Agribusiness professionals, agriculture lenders and bankers, veterinarians, vet techs, commodity group members and producers can register at no cost for any of these programs due to USDA funding. To register or for more information, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR. These programs will be offered online via Zoom at https://iastate.zoom.us/j/6904548582.

For more information, feel free to contact  [email protected] or 515-298-1505.

FORGIVABLE LOANS THROUGH THE SMALL BUSINESS PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM - Federal legislators passed the CARE Act which was signed into law last Friday by President Trump. Included in this legislation is the Paycheck Protection Program which provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.  

Fully Forgiven Loans - Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.  

Qualifying Businesses - Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors— are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries. 

When to Apply - Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. There is a funding cap, so a quick response would be prudent. 

How to Apply - Businesses may apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. 

All loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower. A list of participating lenders as well as additional information and full terms can be found at www.sba.gov. 

See the following documents for more details:  PPP Overview – An expanded version of the above text.  PPP Fact-Sheet – Detailed explanation of program. Loan Application Form – Note that you need to work with a qualified lender to obtain the loan 

Health Screening Algorithm for Businesses - The Iowa Department of Public Health has created an easy algorithm to help businesses screen employees and visitors at the door to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Food Safety Guidance - FDA - Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. The FDA has created a website to address frequently asked questions related to food production and processing facilities.

Food Safety Article – ISU Extension and Outreach - The ISU Extension and Outreach specialists said the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and the European Food Safety Authority are in full agreement that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. Previous coronavirus epidemics likewise showed no evidence of having been spread through food or packaging. 

A note on Iowa DNR and COVID-19- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working with state and local officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and has transitioned employees to work remotely. DNR offices are closed to the public during this time and only available by appointment.

In another effort to further reduce the spread of COVID-19, the DNR is encouraging the use of the online services for submitting applications, payments and other daily tasks and interaction with DNR staff.

Full list of DNR’s online services:
https://www.iowadnr.gov/about-dnr/about-dnr/online-services-databases

Up-to-date information on DNR services, facilities and events impacted by COVID-19: 
https://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/Covid-19

Technical information for regulated businesses in regards to COVID-19:
https://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/Social-Media-Press-Room/Disaster-Assistance#3057321-covid---19-outbreak

We thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time. If you need to contact DNR staff you can reach them by email or phone or by calling 515-725-8200.

FMCSA has reorganized our online listing of Coronavirus (COVID-19) declarations and actions to better organize the information to the public.  The new link is: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19. 

This link contains all of the declarations, guidance, waivers, and FAQ.  It is also linked on the FMCSA homepage and in the emergency declarations page. Going forward all online posted items related to COVID-19 will be added to this page.

3/27/20 - House Passes $2 Trillion Relief Bill - President Trump signed the legislation.  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the CARES Act: “The passage of the Coronavirus response legislation will provide much needed relief to Americans across this country, especially workers and small-business owners who have been impacted by COVID-19. President Trump has made the safety and security of the American people a top priority during this national emergency, and this bill will help make Americans more financially secure. At USDA we will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “Americans across the nation are stepping up to the challenges facing them during these uncertain times. At USDA we are doing our part to ensure those who need help will get it, whether it’s through nutrition assistance, ensuring the food supply chain is safe and secure, or through new flexibilities with our Rural Development loan programs.”

Ag groups seek additional exemptions for truckers

Guidance for Businesses and Employers

Business Guidance FAQ 3.24.20

3/26/20 - USDA Update - Please visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information on USDA services and resources. This page include frequently asked questions, USDA actions to respond to COVID-19, and additional resources from CDC, FEMA, and other agencies. Learn more about the latest actions from USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Rural Development, and other agencies.

Iowa Livestock Industry Update

3/25/2020 - Labor Department releases fact sheets for Families First Coronavirus Response Act 
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division on Tuesday announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1. The FFCRA will provide businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The guidance – provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law. The department said updates will be provided on a rolling basis. Locally, workplace benefits expert David Lind provides some insights in his blog about how some Central Iowa organizations have been preparing for the FFCRA provisions so far. 

3/24/2020 - Iowa Livestock Industry Update

IPA Update

We remind all members that the office in Urbandale is closed to visitors in our attempt to follow social distancing suggestions. You can still reach our staff via phone or email. If you'd like to reach a specific IPA staff member, please visit our contact us page online. No doubt our lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 virus. We will get through this trying time together. I’m grateful to our first responders, health care professionals, farmers, food processors, truck drivers, and those working at our grocery stores. 

Below is an update of information I’ve received a state representative, and information we've compiled. Please share it with others. If you have any specific concerns on an issue that IPA is not already addressing, please feel free to reach out to us, and share your issues and concerns. I am in contact with Secretary Naig and Governor Reynolds, and can serve as your liaison to our elected officials. 

We're all in this together. Please stay healthy, take care of yourself, and your family. 

Call 211 if you have questions or in need of resources & info because of COVID-19. 

There were additional positive cases of Iowans w/COVID-19 reported. Go to the Iowa COVID-19 website for info on numbers, more details on info below, and info/links from our Governor & the federal government: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/

The CDC launched an online bot called Clara to help people who think they may have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, decide whether to seek medical care. The Coronavirus Self-Checker asks questions to establish the user's level of illness and their location, and recommendations for users may include calling 911 or staying at home and contacting their health care provider within 24 hours.
 
The Governor’s Sunday 3/22/20 Health Disaster Proclamation includes the following:  

  • Suspends foreclosures on residential, commercial, & ag property
  • Salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments, & swimming pools closed until March 31, 2020
  • Provides professional licensing relief to remove barriers to many in the medical profession & to prevent the expiration of professional licenses during the disaster
  • Further child care guidance issued: Parents/guardians must drop off children at the door where the children's temperatures will be taken. If a child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees they must go home. Child care services must practice distancing during this time as much as possible. Child care services must send DHS updates every day on availability. If you need access to childcare, please visithttps://iowaccrr.org/families/ or call ‪1-855-244-5301. DHS has established an online map that shows what child care facilities have openings: https://iowa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/cabe69b5e2494259ab6c820c249e0f19  DHS is compiling all COVID-19 DHS resources in one place at www.dhs.iowa.gov/covid19 

The Governor’s previous declaration included Property Tax Payments Suspended. On the Governor’s above website: “The Governor has issued a proclamation that waives penalty and interest that would have accrued if someone did not pay property tax by April 1, 2020. If someone doesn't pay by April 1, 2020, the person would still be technically "delinquent," he or she just wouldn't owe penalty and interest for the late payment. Treasurers will still have authority to send a delinquency notice if payment is not received ahead of April 1, 2020.”https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/
 
From previous Gov proclamation: Iowa is extending the deadline for filing and paying state income taxes to ‪July 31. Check out the Iowa Department of Revenue info at:https://tax.iowa.gov/iowa-extend-filing-and-payment-deadline-income-tax-and-other-tax-types

Iowa Unemployment Insurance Tax Extension to help small businesses https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-announces-unemployment-insurance-tax-extension-to-assist-small

Evictions Suspended
The Governor temporarily suspended some evictions until at least ‪April 16. Check out the Iowa COVID-19 website above for details. The federal government on March 18th (HUD) announced a 60-day suspension of foreclosures & evictions for single family homeowners w/Federal Housing Administration insured mortgages.

Small Businesses: please remember to fill out the survey the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has put together. They need to assess the impact of the pandemic in Iowa. This will help Iowa small businesses receive federal funds.  https://uni.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4SK7W5qa88IkhXT

Go to the Iowa Workforce Development page for unemployment FAQ’s & helpful webinars for employers and employees: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov

Relief to Small Businesses

  • Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has a website with programs for small business owners, www.iowabusinessrecovery.com  IEDA is working on a state grant program for small businesses, info will be on the website when it is available. 
  • The Governor’s office has announced Iowa has been added to the list of states eligible for loans through the Small Business Administration.  Iowa small business owners can apply here: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

Utilities: The Department of Human Rights, Division of Community Action Agencies has extended the application time period for the Low Income Home EnergyAssistance Program (LIHEAP) from ‪April 30 to May 31. Iowans seeking LIHEAP financial assistance should contact their local community action agency ‪before May 31 to discuss the application process and eligibility. Linn Co area go to https://www.hacap.org/what-we-do/energy-conservation/apply-liheap/ . From Alliant Energy: As we work together through the concern and uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, Alliant Energy is temporarily suspending disconnections for non-payment customers. Consider following Alliant Energy or your utility company on social media for updates.

SNAP & Food Assistance: United Way is amazing and their call centers are a vital lifeline for many Iowans who need additional food resources. Now that the 211 call centers are helping triage COVID-19 symptoms, it’s possible the centers could get busy. Contacts for other food resources in Iowa (in addition to calling 211):

  • Iowa's food banks. Contact info for each food bank can be found at: https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank If you don't know which bank serves your community, place your zip code in the Feeding America food bank finder.
  • The Iowa Food Assistance Hotline helps people apply for Food Assistance. Call: ‪855-944-3663
  • WIC provides critical nutrition services for pregnant mothers & children age 5 & under. They’re working to provide flexible services during the COVID-19 crisis. Call: ‪800-532-1579 
  • The Area Agencies on Aging offer a variety of services including home delivered meals. Lifelong Links call center has information and services for vulnerable older adults age 60+ and adults with disabilities age 18+. Call: ‪866-468-7887. 

Public Health: The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), a national resource for suicide and mental health items, has compiled a list of resources available on mental health and coping during this COVID-19 pandemic. http://www.sprc.org/news/resources-support-mental-health-coping-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery 

Blood Donations Needed: The US Surgeon General is still encouraging everyone who can to donate blood. LifeServe Blood Center locations can be found here. Your blood donation to LifeServe stays in your area, supporting hospitals in Iowa. 

Federal Updates: Federal Student Loans: President Trump announced that federal student loan borrowers may take break from making their monthly payments, without incurring interest or penalties for at least the next two months. The US Education Department said it would set the interest rates on all federally held student loans to zero until at least ‪May 12. In order for a borrower to take advantage of this they MUST call their loan service now. 
Link: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/delivering-president-trumps-promise-secretary-devos-suspends-federal-student-loan-payments-waives-interest-during-national-emergency
 
Possible New Federal Legislation: More details are starting to come forward on the Senate CARES Act (not passed yet): Cash Payments: Legislation includes as much as $1,200 per person or $2,400 per married couple. Those with income of less than $75,000 and $150,000 as join filers will get the full payment. Small Business Loans: Businesses with less than 500 employees will be able to apply for loans that are free of fees of up to $10 million to help cover payroll, salaries, mortgages, rent, and other debt obligations. Industry Specific Loans: The proposal has $208 billion in loan promises for industries that are struggling due to the Coronavirus, $50 billion for Airlines, $8 billion for Cargo Carriers & $150 billion for unnamed businesses. Health Care: Requires the FDA to expedite and put a priority on the review of new drugs. Requires insurers to pay for COVID-19 testing with no fees for patient, free no cost sharing of certain vaccines when available and an additional $1.32 billion for funding of community health centers. Tax Deadlines: The bill would also move the federal tax deadline to ‪July 15th. The US Senate has expressed his hope in passing the bill on Monday, Link:https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/20/senate-coronavirus-emergency-stimulus-deal-friday-138788

Travel: US citizens stuck overseas should enroll in the STEP program. This let’s our embassies know they have citizens in their country. Once enrolled, our embassy will communicate & can alert citizens on best practices. STEP enrollment can be found at www.travel.state.gov then go to international travel. On the left hand side you will see the link to enroll in STEP. Also families should make contact with Overseas Citizen Services at 888-407-4747 from the US or 202-501-4444 from any country. 
 
If you’ve just returned from travel including other countries the CDC has recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html The State Department has also advised all Americans to stop traveling abroad, raising the global travel advisory to level 4, the highest level. 
 
US Department of Human Services: On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted an update to its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ‪Medicaid.gov website to aid state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in their response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. You can find the updated FAQs here: https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/downloads/covid-19-faqs.pdf

More information on COVID-19 is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov