In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the WSCGA is evaluating in-person activities on a case-by-case basis.
Farm Workforce is Eligible for COVID Vaccine Beginning March 1
On Jan. 26, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released their final list of those who will be eligible next to receive COVID-19 vaccine. After hundreds of public comments from the WSCGA, agricultural groups, farmers, farm workers and food production workers, DHS approved all “food supply chain” workers for the next vaccine eligibility phase, “Phase 1B,” which is expected to begin on March 1, 2021. The availability of vaccine on March 1 will depend on state supply, but food supply chain workers will be eligible for vaccine at that time.
According to the DHS, “food supply chain” includes:
1. agricultural production workers, such as farm owners and other farm employees;
2. critical workers who provide on-site support to multiple agricultural operations, such as livestock breeding and insemination providers, farm labor contractors, crop support providers, and livestock veterinarians; and
3. food production workers, such as dairy plant employees, fruit and vegetable processing plant employees, and animal slaughtering and processing employees.
Access to vaccine in your local area may be through your health care provider, your county public health department or through your local pharmacy. Currently, there is no statewide registration or sign-up for vaccinations, so we recommend that you contact your local providers to learn how you and your employees may be able to access vaccine when you become eligible on March 1.
COVID Resources for Harvest - Click Here
In partnership with UW-Madison Extension, we are sharing a list of measures to consider when planning for this year's harvest.
WSCGA Virtual Summer Meeting
This year's annual Summer Meeting was our most innovative and forward thinking yet. WSCGA members joined the annual Summer Meeting on August 12 via video conference. Topics included the Association's summer business meeting, timely educational presentations, and vendor lightning talks. We also incorporated an Associate Member Showcase in lieu of the traditional Summer Trade Show. Meeting materials, the video recording, and the presentation can be found at: http://www.wiscran.org/experience/2020-summer-meeting/
Wisconsin Farm Support Program- Phase 2
The Wisconsin Farm Support Program is a federally funded program that provides relief to farmers that suffered economic damages in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first round of payments was sent July 15 to qualified farmers with gross income of $35,000 to $5,000,000. A second round of this program is being offered, with a sign up window from August 10-24. Apply online at: https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/TaxPro/2020/FarmSupportProgram.aspx
Grower Update - Applications for Direct Aid to Farmers Accepted Through June 29
DATCP has released the details of the “Wisconsin Farm Support Program” – Direct Aid Payments for Farmers, which is a direct payment available to eligible farmers that uses $50 million of the funding that Wisconsin received under the federal CARES Act. This program will provide between $1,000 and $3,500 in direct cash payments to eligible farmers to assist them with the economic impacts resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible farmers must have at least $35,000 in gross farm income but not more than $5 million in gross farm income in 2019. Payments will be determined on a sliding scale based on 2019 gross receipts. Applications for funds will be accepted from June 15 through June 29 using an online application through the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Safer at Home Order, posted 5/14/20
Attorneys Jordan K. Lamb and Wes Webendorfer, DeWitt LLP
On May 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin issued a decision declaring Emergency Order #28 Safer at Home Order (“Safer at Home”) “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.” The Safer at Home Order was issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee, Andrea Palm, and had extended Wisconsin’s Order through May 26, 2020. In its decision, the Court ordered that “there can be no criminal penalties for violations of [the] order.”
The result is that, at this time, in areas where no local government order is effective, the Supreme Court’s decision means businesses may open. However, the best practice for businesses choosing to open is to adhere to the Wisconsin Economic Development Commission’s Reopening Guidelines, which compile industry-specific advice for protecting the health and safety of employees and the public.
Further, the Court’s decision does not apply to Safer at Home’s closures of public and private K-12 schools. Therefore, all schools remain closed except for distance learning and virtual learning.
As indicated above, local governments have the power to issue their own orders closing businesses, limiting travel, and imposing other restrictions. The following local governments have already issued such orders and advisory guidelines:
Because we expect counties to continue to make individual decisions, we suggest that you check your county or municipal health department’s website to determine if orders are in place in your area. You should continue to monitor the actions of those departments in the event any revised or additional orders are issued.
In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, Governor Evers has indicated that his administration will soon issue the framework for an emergency administrative rule to establish new state-level regulations to respond to COVID-19. The process to finalize and begin enforcement of an emergency rule may take several weeks and must involve the State Legislature.
If you have specific questions about the impact to your business of the Supreme Court’s decision or requirements of a local order, please contact Government Relations Practice Group Chair, Jordan K. Lamb at (608) 252-9358 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Issues Three-Phase “Badger Bounce Back” Plan For Opening Wisconsin, posted 4/23/20:
By Jordan Lamb, DeWitt LLP
On April 20, 2020, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #31, the Badger Bounce Back plan, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers. Order #31 describes a three-phase plan for opening society. Nothing in Order #31 supersedes, alters or modifies Safer at Home Emergency Order #12 or Safer at Home Emergency Order #28, which are still in full force and effect. Rather, Order #31 is a guideline for reopening the state once measurable progress is made on specific criteria.
For the state to progress through these three phases, the Department of Health Services will assess data relating to various criteria to determine when each phase may be implemented. The state must show progress on the criteria before a new phase is implemented. The criteria include the following:
Health Care Capacity
For questions relating to Order #31, or any other governmental orders regarding COVID-19, please contact Jordan Lamb at email@example.com
Email from Cranberry Outreach Specialist, sent 4/17/20:
Two emails in two days is a lot, but I want you to be aware that farmers are specifically encouraged to take advantage of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, starting April 21. Some details are below.
Extension Financial Capability Specialist Peggy Olive has summarized the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and how it may apply to farmers.
Cranberry Outreach Specialist
University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension
400 Market St, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494
Email from Cranberry Outreach Specialist, sent 4/15/20:
I sure didn't expect my first communication with you to focus on 'cranberries coping with covid-19', but we farm the ground we've got, not the ground we wish we had. You may be seeing some PPP information for your lenders, but scroll down if you want guidance on managing deliveries, your staffing plan, and the Families First Recovery Act. Some info comes from Extension, some I wrote, and some are from endcoronavirus.org. I want to make sure you have all the information you need to operate effectively and safely through this season, so if you have questions on any of it, give me a call.
Farmer eligibility and sign up for the Paycheck Protection Program began April 3, 2020. This program provides forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. This can cover payroll, health insurance, local and state taxes, and even self-employment income (although that's more paperwork).
The Families First Recovery Act specifies paid leave for people who need to stay home because of coronavirus exposure. The Act makes funds available for farms (and other employers) in need of it.
What's your staffing plan if covid-19 hits your farm? Consider ways to reduce transmission risk on your farm while everyone is healthy, and make contingency plans in case extra help is needed.
How to operate safely:
Managing Visitors and Deliveries---a good plan for contact with the outside world can reduce your marsh's risk. Using cell phones and arranging product drop-off without contact is best.
You reduce your farm's risk when you encourage your employees to distance safely. These two guides from endcoronavirus.org are not farm-specific, but one lists essential guidelines if someone needs to quarantine, and the other contains a list of questions you can ask your employees so you can assess their off-farm risk together.
I'm looking forward to meeting you by zoom, phone, and email for now; and to learning all about your marshes as soon as we can do that safely! And until we can meet in person, take advantage of being outdoors, and be proud of your essential contributions to our state, and to the dinner tables of families throughout the world.
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences News Release, Posted 4/10/20:
UW–Madison diagnostic labs adjust, suspend services
Some of the services offered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s diagnostic laboratories have been temporarily adjusted or suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details are below.
UW Insect Diagnostic Lab
Open for insect/arthropod identification services for residents of Wisconsin. Digital photos are highly encouraged. Physical samples are still being accepted by mail only, but may experience delays. For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/insectlab.
UW Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic
Until further notice, the PDDC will not be accepting any physical samples for diagnosis. Customers are welcome to continue submitting questions and/or digital photos to the PDDC by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/pddc.
UW Soil and Forage Analysis Lab
Testing of samples has been suspended. For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/soilforagelab.
UW Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab
No in-person sample drop offs will be allowed, and no in-person consultations will be conducted. Mailed samples only. For information and updates, visit go.wisc.edu/turfgrasslab.
DATCP News Release, Posted 4/2/20:
Online Exam Available for Temporary Pesticide Applicator Certification
Release Date: April 2, 2020
Media Contact: Leeann Duwe, Public Information Officer
(608) 224-5130, email@example.com
MADISON – A new online exam is available for individuals to become temporarily certified until October 31 as a commercial pesticide applicator. This video details how to sign-up for the exam, developed in partnership with the University of Wisconsin – Pesticide Applicator Training Program: https://youtu.be/_0dKigCIhVQ
Currently, the following categories are available:
Additional categories will be available on the following dates:
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) appreciates the agribusiness industry for their assistance during the test phase of the online exam. More information about the pesticide certification extension and frequently asked questions are available at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/PesticideCertExtension.aspx. To receive updates about certified pesticide applicator information and requirements, subscribe to DATCP’s email list.
As a reminder, DATCP has suspended in-person pesticide certification testing as of March 18, 2020. If your certification expires January 31-September 30, DATCP has extended your certification until October 31. You can continue to operate as a certified applicator until October 31.
3/31/20: The U.S Chamber of Commerce has the latest resources, guidance and insights to assist employers with maintaining employees and keeping the doors open during this changeling time. They specifically have resources and info for small business which is where the information below came from:
The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, Posted 3/31/20:
Provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, enabling the U.S. Small Business Administration to offer $7 billion in disaster assistance loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
What does it mean for small business?
What is a disaster relief loan?
The disaster loan program from the SBA is in place to provide economic relief to businesses impacted by natural disasters throughout the United States. The program is used extensively after detrimental events where businesses can receive low-interest loans to get back on their feet.
Since early March, this offering has been extended to small businesses across the nation that have had significant losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. These loans have a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and a 2.75% rate for nonprofits, and are usually capped at $2 million.
Disaster loans can be used to cover many business expenses, like payroll, accounts payable, equipment and machinery purchases, real estate payments and other bills you cannot pay because of COVID-19.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), posted 3/31/20
The largest financial assistance bill ever, includes provisions to help small businesses.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program, one of the largest sections of the CARES Act, is the most important provision in the new stimulus bill for most small businesses. This new program sets aside $350 billion in government-backed loans from private banks that can, in some cases, be converted to grants, which means that if you meet the requirements you won't need to pay the loan back.
How does the program work?
Paycheck Protection loans will come from private banks. Currently, the SBA guarantees small business loans that are given out by a network of more than 800 lenders across the U.S. The Paycheck Protection Program creates a type of emergency loan that can be forgiven when used to maintain payroll through June and expands the network beyond SBA so that more banks, credit unions and lenders can issue those loans. The basic purpose is to incentivize small businesses to not lay off workers and to rehire laid-off workers that lost jobs due to COVID-19 disruptions.
What types of businesses are eligible?
The Paycheck Protection Program offers loans for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, select types of businesses with fewer than 1,500 employees, 501(c)(3) non-profits with fewer than 500 workers and some 501(c)(19) veteran organizations. Additionally, the self-employed, sole proprietors, and freelance and gig economy workers are also eligible to apply. Businesses, even without a personal guarantee or collateral, can get a loan as long as they were operational on February 15, 2020.
How big of a loan can I get and what are the terms?
The maximum loan amount under the Paycheck Protection Act is $10 million, with an interest rate no higher than 4%. No personal guarantee or collateral is required for the loan. The lenders are expected to defer fees, principal and interest for no less than six months and no more than one year.
Can these loans be forgiven?
Yes, small businesses that take out these loans can get some or all of their loans forgiven. Generally speaking, as long as employers continue paying employees at normal levels during the eight weeks following the origination of the loan, then the amount they spent on payroll costs (excluding costs for any compensation above $100,000 annually), mortgage interest, rent payments and utility payments can be combined and that portion of the loan will be forgiven.
How do I get a Payroll Protection Loan?
These loans will be given out by SBA-approved private lenders. Banks are still getting the program up and running so check with your local bank to see if they have the program in place. Banks that are already approved SBA lenders may be quicker to get the loan program in place.
Changes to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)
Another important aspect of the CARES Act for small businesses is that it expands eligibility for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). In early March, the SBA’s disaster loan program was extended to all small businesses affected by COVID-19, but the CARES Act opens this program up further and makes it easier to apply. These loans come directly from the SBA and you can apply for one here.
These changes include:
For everything you need to know about applying for a small business loan, see the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Loan Guide.
Can a business get an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan?
Yes, small businesses can get both an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan as long as they don’t pay for the same expenses. However, be sure to check with your financial advisor or lender before taking both types of loans if you are not sure of the specifics.
For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
Please reach out to your financial institution and advisors for specific information on how these loans may specifically benefit you.
Pesticide Applicator Certification Testing Temporarily Suspended, Posted 3/30/2020, Updated 3/31/20:
Email to WSCGA Members, Posted 3/24/2020:
The Order ALLOWS individuals to leave their residence to work for:
Email to WSCGA Members, Posted 3/23/2020: