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CFAP Applications Now Being Accepted Online

The USDA Farm Service Agency is accepting Coronavirus Food Assistance Program applications via an online portal. The agency will also use commercial document storage and e-signature solutions so farmers and ranchers can complete CFAP applications from home. Producers who wish to apply will need an e-Authentication account and can do so at farmers.gov.

MN Farmers Must Develop a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is requiring all Minnesota farmers to have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place by June 29. The plan must comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health coronavirus guidelines and OSHA standards. All farms and farmers’ markets must develop and implement a preparedness plan.

ND FSA Offices Open for In-Person Appointments

North Dakota USDA Service Centers (Farm Service Agency and Natural Resource Conservation Service) may now conduct business in person in the office by appointment only. Visitors will be pre-screened based on health concerns or recent travel and must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are encouraged to wear a face covering during their appointments and must call ahead and schedule an appointment.
 
Online services are still available to customers, including the new Box and OneSpan functionality that enable customers to sign and share FSA and NRCS documents with USDA Service Center staff in just a few clicks. Producers can get started with a simple username and password for Box or, for OneSpan, a quick identity verification. Additional services are available to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the farmers.gov portal where producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. Through the FSA website, customers can access certain FSA programs and view FSA data, including maps, on FSAfarm+. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at farmers.gov/sign-in

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Signup Now Open

Signup for the $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through USDA is now open. Eligible commodities include several specialty crops and non-speciality crops, as well as livestock. USDA is working to identify commodities not included CFAP to potentially be added. Farmers and ranchers who suffered a five percent or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April or with unharvested, mature crops are encouraged to submit comments to USDA.

Practice Physical Distancing on the Farm

As North Dakota slowly moves into a phase of re-opening, the risk of illness from COVID-19 has not faded. Farmers, ranchers and their employees interact with each other regularly, so they need to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) physical distancing guidelines to minimize the risk for themselves and their families. Here are some tips to protect farm employees:
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance between people whenever possible.
  • Wear a mask when working around others.
  • Develop a cohesive plan for the whole farm.
Daily plans can be communicated virtually through phone calls, emails or group text messages. If in-person meetings are necessary, try to meet outside in an open area rather than in a small shop with limited space that won’t allow for physical distancing. If you have space, set chairs apart or mark spots on the floor for distancing. Here are some other tips for physical distancing:
  • Have enough vehicles so people can drive separately or in pairs as often as possible. Assign equipment, tractors and pickups to individuals as much as possible, especially for those who may be considered at higher risk of developing illnesses.
  • Limit the number of individuals in vehicles when riding from field to field, and wear a mask when sharing this space.
  • Limit ride-alongs of nonessential workers or family.  
  • Stagger breaks and mealtimes to minimize the number of individuals in the breakroom at one time, and encourage cleaning and disinfecting between uses.
Visit NDSU’s COVID-19 in agriculture website at

Protect Your Farm/Ranch From COVID-19

The agriculture and food industries have been deemed essential services, and reducing the risk of contracting an illness such as COVID-19 is important to maintaining farm and ranch operations. Here are 10 ways from NDSU Extension that farmers and ranchers can protect themselves, their families and others from COVID-19:

  1. Wash your hands often. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  2. Clean and disinfect high-touch shared areas after each use in shops, tractors, other equipment and vehicles. Allow for airflow in shared spaces.
  3. Keep your distance. Assign tools, tractors, pickups, etc. to specific individuals as much as possible.
  4. Make sure individuals on your farm who may be considered higher risk or live with others who are considered at risk, as well as their equipment, are distanced from others as much as possible.
  5. Hold daily meetings virtually. Do not ask employees to show up at the shop in the morning for meetings. Hold meetings in large open areas, such as outdoors.
  6. Limit the number of individuals in a vehicle as much as possible when driving field to field. Use a cloth mask to cover your nose and mouth when around others.
  7. Limit family members or nonessential people from visiting during work. Skip ride-alongs to keep yourself and other employees safe. Do not meet for family dinners in the field.
  8. Stay home if you or a family member gets sick.
  9. Encourage all farm employees to keep their social circles tight. Avoid close contact (6-foot distance) with individuals if you must go out.

Develop and communicate a cohesive plan involving all employees. Outbreaks tend to happen when a plan is not developed or some are not taking the situation seriously.

Pantry Items to Pair with Beans

If you’re cooking from a well-stocked pantry, you may be eating more beans than ever. To keep meal preparation simple and varied, make sure your pantry is also stocked with these shelf-stable ingredients that enhance bean dishes.
  • Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce: Simmer canned or cooked beans in any type of tomato sauce for a dish packed with nutrition and Mediterranean flavor
  • Frozen vegetables. Add frozen spinach, kale, or collards to beans along with a can of diced tomatoes for a satisfying soup.
  • Onions and garlic: Sautéed in a little oil, onions, and garlic add fast flavor to beans.
  • Aged cheeses. Mix shredded cheese with breadcrumbs as a topping for any baked bean recipe.
  • Don’t forget favorite condiments like soy sauce, hot sauce, canned peppers, salsa, and balsamic vinegar to build fast flavor into a pot of beans.

Paycheck Protection Program Funds Replenished via CARES Act 3.5

President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus aid package. The legislation replenishes $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. The package also allows farmers to be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Emergency Economic Assistance Grant program. Get more information here.

Food Aid Outlook

The Coronavirus pandemic is having a significant impact on food assistance programs and on global child nutrition. U.S. dry beans are shipped to numerous countries around the world, as they are a staple of many diets and prized for their nutritious value. Nearly 1.5 billion children – more than half of the world’s student population – are being kept home from school due to pandemic response measures. Nationwide school closures are in place in more than 180 countries, while in many others there are localized closures which threaten to become countrywide.
 
In response, the U.S. Dry Bean Council is supporting the idea that school feeding programs need to maintain flexibility and responsiveness to changing conditions for supply and distribution of food and provision of nutrition services, while ensuring compliance with COVID-19 protocols. This may include delivery of meals or take home rations to children who are out of school so they have access to nutritious food. Read more.

USDA Announces Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

On April 17, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This new program takes several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. President Donald Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to producers, maintain the integrity of the food supply chain and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to food.
 
Areas of the program that are of particular interest to the dry bean industry include:
  • The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.
  • USDA has up to an additional $873.3 million available in Section 32 funding to purchase a variety of agricultural products for distribution to food banks. The use of these funds will be determined by industry requests, USDA agricultural market analysis and food bank needs.
 
The full details are available in this USDA press release.