COVID-19 Daily Farmers Update 3/24/2020

— Written By

COVID-19 Daily Farmers Update 3/24/2020

Dear strawberry and farming community,

The Covid-19 pandemic currently has shifted the way people conduct business. While Agritourism is hurting, with reduced or closed restaurant and events operations, others are finding themselves confronted with an increased consumer base, trying to adjust to the “new normal” of selling produce in a world of social distancing. Our daily updates will help you all to cope with this reality. We hope everyone stays healthy and sane through this time.

Daily NC and Global COVID-19 Update:

As of 3/24/2020, 9:45 a.m.: a total of 8,502  people in NC were tested for the virus. 398 people in NC were tested positive. As of now, NC has no COVID-19 related deaths.

NCDHHS Coronavirus Information Page

As of 3/24/2020, 7:41 p.m.: 417,966 people worldwide are known to be infected with the virus. 18,615 people worldwide have died due to COVID-19.

World-Wide Covid-19 GIS Tracker  

Resources:

Webinars: How to create your own online store?

Find local resources: Food Hub, Farmers Markets, Cooler Space, Processing etc.

Internet Connectivity Survey NC Farm Bureau:

The North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office, with the Friday Institute at NC State University, is conducting a five-minute survey to gather data on internet connectivity from North Carolina farmers. The survey was developed in part from information gathered during NC Farm Bureau Federation listening sessions conducted with local farmers and agriculture partners. The data will be used to inform research, policy and funding recommendations to assist communities where internet access is inadequate. The current survey will run until April 30. This survey is meant to be taken only by farmers, or their employees, about their farms. LINK to the Survey: NC State Internet Connectivity Survey 

General questions about the Internet Connectivity Survey for NC Farmers can go to Angie Bailey, Broadband Infrastructure Office: angie.bailey@nc.gov, 919-817-0541. 

Our survey:

Please take our COVID-19 Survey. This is important so that we can support our community in the best way we can. Not one of us has experienced something like this before, and we were not prepared. We need to know what you think so that we can respond better to this emergency. The survey is anonymous and will only take 3 min.

TAKE OUR COVID-19 SURVEY

How can you help your community?

Please think about how you can help your local community in two ways: How can you keep people safe? And how can you make sure that people have necessary food and nutrition supply? PLease work with churches and other community leaders together. We have put together a list of how to help your community on our NC State Horticulture COVID-19 Farming Resources page. Please also find the CEFS response, contact the interfaith food shuttle and the community food peer network if you want to help!

In addition to serving your community during this time, it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are some links to advice and resources that should help people cope, process, and maintain their health during these trying times. We hope to expand resources on this kind of support in the coming weeks.

The Science of Well-Being , Yale University’s course with challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits (audit course for free via Coursera)

The CDC’s guide to managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak

H2-A Labor:

As we mentioned yesterday, new H-2A visas are not being processed as U.S. embassies close down. But in response to a foreseeable labor shortage, the USDA and DOL have put together a resource page to keep those affected updated on the situation. One of the important takeaways from the website is as follows:

“USDA and DOL have identified nearly 20,000 H-2A and H-2B certified positions that have expiring contracts in the coming weeks. There will be workers leaving these positions who could be available to transfer to a different employer’s labor certification. The data, available below, includes the number of certified worker positions, the current employer name and contact, attorney/agent name and contact, and the worksite address. This information will be a resource to H-2A employers whose workforce has been delayed because of travel restrictions or visa processing limitations. Employers should be aware that all statutory and regulatory requirements continue to apply. Employers are encouraged to monitor www.travel.state.gov for the latest information and should monitor the relevant Embassy/Consular websites for specific operational information.”

In order to get access to the data they reference, go to their website for a pdf or excel document.

For other H-2A resources and updates, please refer to these links:

www.usembassy.gov

COVID-19 Restrictions on U.S. Visas and Entry

In general, while some businesses have to lay off labor, others are probably in need due to increased traffic. Please us the NC Farm Link homepage and contact your local Extension Agent if you are in need of labor of if you need to lay off people. You will help them and your community.

Food Safety

As we’ve mentioned in our previous blog posts, this current health crisis makes it important to keep your food, employees, and yourself safe. But it is also important to note that the USDA is not aware of any links between virus transmission and food consumption. Nevertheless, it’s still critical that farmers, employees, and customers feel safe throughout the production process. See the resources listed below to find helpful food safety guidelines.

COVID-19 Farmers Market Guidelines

COVID-19 U-Pick Guidelines

COVID-19 Community Garden Guidelines

FDA Food Safety Guidelines

Sales, Marketing and Opening of Farmers Markets in NC

On Sunday we discussed various options for alternative sales and marketing. All of the links from that post are listed below. But now it’s time to look ahead to this coming week. What are your farmer’s markets doing in response to the outbreak? Here is a list of various markets throughout the state and their operating status (as of 3/24). We cannot cover every market and outlet in the state, so please make sure to check the status of your outlets if they are not listed below.

  • Apex Farmers Market: Closed until April 9, 2020
  • Asheville City Market: Closed until further notice
  • Carrboro Farmers Market: Open Saturdays 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.; and Wednesdays 3 – 6 p.m.
  • Chapel Hill Farmers Market: Open Saturdays 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.; see website for social distancing and sanitation protocol
  • Charlotte Regional Farmers Market: Open Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Durham Farmers Market: Closed until further notice
  • Eno River Farmers Market: Closed until further notice
  • Gastonia Farmers Market: Opening April 4, 2020, as originally planned; all scheduled events postponed until further notice
  • Hickory Farmers Market: Open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • High County Food Hub: Open, order online Thursday – Monday, pick-up wednesday between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Holly Springs Farmers Market: Next market date is April 4, 2020
  • State Farmers Market (Raleigh): Open Monday-Saturday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wake Forest Farmers Market: Open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; see website for social distancing and sanitation protocol
  • WNC Farmers Market: Open daily 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Zebulon Farmers Market: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Online alternative marketing resources:

Free online website building services 

How to create a google order form video (YouTube)

Farmers Market Health and Safety Guidelines

Gatherings of Less than 50 People Guidelines 

NCSU Horticulture COVID-19 Farming Resources

NCSU Local Food Recommendations 

This post was created by Emma Volk (evolk@ncsu.edu) and Mark Hoffmann