FAQ About COVID-19 and N.H. Agriculture

COVID-19 and New Hampshire Agriculture

UNH Cooperative Extension and partner organizations are working hard to find answers to your questions about the impacts of COVID-19 on the state’s farms and agricultural businesses. 

Submit your questions using the form below. Questions will be directed to Extension staff who will work in partnership with local agencies and organizations to research issues and provide the best available answers here to support New Hampshire commercial agriculture.

This page will be updated daily with new questions and updated answers as we continually receive more information.

This resources is a cooperative effort of UNH Extension, NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, NH Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Service Agency, NH Ag Mediation, and others.

If you’d like to ask your questions in person or hear from fellow producers and service providers, please join our live open forums. Upcoming sessions Monday's 3/30 and 4/6 10:00 - 11:00am, and Wednesday's 4/1 and 4/8, 7:00 - 8:00pm. 

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      Production 

      What disinfectants work on COVID-19?
      US EPA's list is the most complete list available. [updated 3/23/20]
       
      Is the Division of Pesticide Control still scheduling exams for pesticide applicators?
      At this time, scheduling of exams will be delayed until further notice. Following April 6th the Division will contact those people that have sent in correctly completed applications with appropriate payments with regard to scheduling exams. People will be contacted based on receipt of correctly completed paperwork and fees.  For example, items received March 16th will be the first group of people to be called to schedule exams and so on. [updated 3/23/20]
       
      Is Extension still running the soil testing and plant diagnostic services?
      No walk-in or mail-in samples accepted, digital diagnose available. Check website for details.[updated 3/23/20]
       
      Should we be expecting shortages in crop protection chemicals and fertilizers?
      We’ve spoken with suppliers, and at this time those we have spoken with are not anticipating shortages. We may see some delays due to trucking issues, but the products are in supply and ready to be delivered. Your supplier may have more detailed information on anticipated delivery dates. [updated 3/25/20]
       
      new itemHave the Scale Clinics been canceled? 
      The Division of Weights and Measures scale certification clinics scheduled through the end of April 2020 have been canceled due to COVID-19 mandates. The clinics scheduled for May and June will take place unless we are directed otherwise. At this point, it is not feasible to offer single appointments for scale certification so do not bring your scale/s to the NHDAMF office in Concord. A list of service companies who can certify scales is found at https://www.agriculture.nh.gov/divisions/weights-measures/businesses.htm [updated 3/30/20]
       

       

      Dairy & Livestock

      Will milk hauling be affected by this? 
      From Agri-Mark: As the Covid-19 outbreak has emerged we have taken numerous steps to ensure our members, employees, independent haulers, manufacturing facilities, and our supply chain partners are doing their part to mitigate the spread of this virus. We have worked closely with our independent haulers to keep them up to date on pertinent information, and online resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Our haulers continue to manage through best practices, and are closely monitoring the situation. We have also done so with our member-farms to provide the most accurate, and up to date information. We are a farmer-owned cooperative and it’s vital we support each other and those around us through these challenging times. Our manufacturing facilities and offices have implemented protocols to control and mitigate the impact the virus has on our business. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our member-farms, haulers, and supply chain partners to be due diligent on our efforts. We will continue to market our members’ milk daily and ensure a secure market. [updated 3/27/20]
       
      How are sale barns/animal auctions being affected by this?
      NH does not have any sale barns or auctions within the state. We do not know how an order in another state would impact movement in or out of New Hampshire. At this point in time the best practice is to call the sale barn/ auction where you wish to ship your livestock in order to see whether the facility is open or not. [updated 3/26/20]
       
      How are veterinary Services being affected by this?
      There are a variety of approaches across veterinary practices for how they are handling COVID-19. Any official declaration as to whether veterinary services are essential or not would be part of an emergency order. [updated 3/26/20]
       
      Is the sanitizer FS-100 effective at killing COVID-19 in my milking parlor?
      IBA states that it has not been tested for effectiveness on COVID-19, however other sodium hypochlorite products are effective. CDC: "For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective" https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html [updated 3/23/20]
       
      Can the COVID-19 virus be transmitted to animals?
       
      What is Dairy One's response to COVID-19?
      In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have implemented a wide range of measures that will minimize rick to our staff and keep our business operating at the highest level possible. https://dairyone.com/covid-19-response/
       
      As a livestock farmer, what are some things I can do to become more prepared in the event my employees or I become sick?
      How Can Livestock Farmers Prepare for the Coronavirus Outbreak? Morning Ag Clips [updated 3/23/20]
       
      Can we count on slaughter houses being included as Essential Services, therefor remaining open in light of the state’s stay-at-home orders? 
      Slaughter houses are deemed “essential” in NH.  The State of New Hampshire has compiled a list of industry sectors that provide essential services and support to COVID-19 and the core missions of the State.  The list includes livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities. View the full list [updated 3/27/20]
       

       

      Labor

      What do I do if one of my employees comes to work sick? 
       
      As a livestock farmer, what are some things I can do to become more prepared in the event my employees or I become sick?
      https://www.morningagclips.com/how-can-livestock-farmers-prepare-for-the-coronavirus-outbreak/ .[updated 3/23/20]
       
      What does the Family First Corona Virus Response Act mean for my farm?
       

       

      Food Safety

      Are reusable bags prohibited at the farmer's market or farm stand?
      NH Governor, Chris Sununu's emergency order #10, issued March 21, 2020, states that all establishments within the state that offer groceries for sale, shall transition to exclusive use of store provided single use plastic or paper bags when bagging groceries or other products for customers. https://www.governor.nh.gov/news-media/emergency-orders/documents/emergency-order-10.pdf  [updated 3/24/20]
       
      How can I adhere to social distancing recommendations for farm workers during farming activities?
      FDA guidance states: social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities. When it’s impractical for employees in these settings to maintain social distancing, effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 [updated 3/27/20]
       
      new itemDo I have to use new, unused cardboard cartons to package my eggs?
      The NH Fresh Egg Law does not prohibit the reuse of cartons.  Farmers must be sure the cartons are “clean.”  However; there are some municipalities that do not allow egg cartons to be reused.  We always recommend that producers check with their city or town health official to find out what is allowed.
       
      While USDA FSIS says that egg cartons should be considered one-time-use-packaging.  This means that it is recommended that cartons only be used once.  It’s not prohibiting the reuse of cartons.  [updated 3/30/20]
       
      new itemHow long do my recycled cardboard egg cartons have to set to kill the coronavirus?
      Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19 (source: FDA.gov). According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus that causes COVID-19 is viable for up to 24 hours on cardboard. Waiting 24 hours to use your cartons would be a way to reduce risk even further. [updated 3/30/20]
       

       

      Ag Business

      How will the H-2A program be affected?
      AmericanHort and CJ Lake have assembled a list of FAQs for users of the H-2A visa program. [updated 3/24/20]
       
      My farm uses H-2A workers and we have questions, where do we turn for answers?
      We have two resources that discussed H-2A.  These are listed on our blog which you can access here: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/labor-and-unemployment-q-farm-businesses [updated 3/24/20]
       
      Are farm employees and farm owners eligible for unemployment compensation?
      Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order #5 allows for self-employed individuals and employees currently excluded from collecting unemployment, (which would include many farm employees) to be covered.  We are seeking guidance on this from the NH Employment Security Office. For more in-depth information please go to: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/financial-assistance-programs-farmers [updated 3/26/20]
       
      As a farm owner, do I qualify for Small Business Administration loans?
      The State of NH has been designated an “economic disaster area” which allows non-farm business owners to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA)SBA cannot make loans to agricultural operations, however they may work with businesses tied to agriculture. Non-farm business owners can contact the District SBA office in Concord at 603-225-1601 and speak to either Warren or Miguel. You can also access SBA information through a daily webinar they are offering.  For more in-depth information on SBA programs and how to access their daily webinars, click on the following link: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/financial-assistance-programs-farmers[updated 3/26/20]
       
      Are there any programs available to help farms and agricultural enterprises?
      If you know of anyone having problems due to the COVID-19 situation, FSA can make loans to eligible agricultural producers struggling with financial crisis.  The USDA Farm Service Agency offers a variety of fixed rate, low interest loans to help with working capital and cash flow needs.  Currently, our direct loan program rate is 2.625% fixed.  If you know of anyone that is in need of a farm loan, please tell them to contact our NH Farm Loan Manager, Rebecca Davis at 223-6003 or rebecca.davis2@usda.gov You can also go to https://farmland.org/farmer-relief-fund/ to learn about opportunities from American Farmland Trust. [updated 3/26/20]
       
      What records will help me to access new disaster relief programd if some become available?
      From Keith Farrell, District Director, USDA/Farm Service Agency, New Hampshire State Office
      Phone: 603.224.7941, Fax: 1-855-428-0330, keith.farrell@usda.gov
      If a new disaster program is announced, typical documentation that would be needed showing the financial impact of COVID-19 may be:
      • Comparison of Schedule F profit and loss numbers for 2019 as compared to farm income and expenses in 2020
      • Sale receipts of unplanned livestock sales because of the impact of the financial conditions due to COVID-19
      • Receipts for additional feed purchases needed as a result of the virus’s financial impact
      • Copies of vender open accounts bills unpaid because of the loss of farm income
      • List of account receivables not received because of the financial impact to customers
      The general rule is to keep all documentation that can help prove and measure the overall impact of COVID-19 on your farming operation. [updated 3/26/20]
       
      NH has asked that all non-essential workers are to stay at home. Does that include agriculture?
      Agricultural businesses are deemed “essential” in NH.  The State of New Hampshire has compiled a list of industry sectors that provide essential services and support to COVID-19 and the core missions of the State. View the full list Essential businesses mut develop strategies, procedures, and practices to allow for social distancing protocols consistent with guidance provided by the CDC and the Division of Public Health. [updated 3/27/20]
       
      What are the requirements for delivering product over state lines to states that have shelter-in-place orders in effect?
      Some states are requiring "travel papers". we are currently seeking guidance on what this means for NH producers. Stay tuned.
       
      new itemCan I have a "Pop Up Market" on my farm or property?
      New Hampshire law defines a farmers’ market as “an event or series of events at which 2 or more vendors of agricultural commodities gather for purposes of offering for sale such commodities to the public. Commodities offered for sale must include, but are not limited to, products of agriculture as defined in RSA 21:34-a.”  “Farmers’ Market” shall not include any event held upon any premises owned, leased or otherwise controlled by any individual vendor selling therein.  (RSA 175:1)  
      So the work around options are:
      ·  Single farm “pop-ups” can simply be called farm stands rather than farmers’ markets.
      ·  Hold the market on property that is not owned by a vendor, such as town owned parking lot, or really any property not owned or leased by a participating market vendor.
      ·  If a farm hosts a market on their property, keep the host farm sales area clearly separate from the rest of the farmers’ market vendors. This is the kind of thing that is already being done on numerous winter market sites held in a greenhouse. The host greenhouse is not a vendor at the market, but maintains a separate sales area. [updated 3/30/20]
       
       

       

      Green Industry

      Are the common greenhouse sanitizers Greenshield or ZeroTol effective against COVID-19 on impervious surfaces? 
      The active ingredients in each of these products are the same as in at least one other product listed on the EPA's list List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 found here: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2 [updated 3/23/20]
       
      NH has ordered that all non-essential businesses are to close, does that include horticultural businesses? 
      Horticulture businesses are deemed “essential” in NH.  The State of New Hampshire has compiled a list of industry sectors that provide essential services and support to COVID-19 and the core missions of the State.  The list includes nurseries, greenhouses, garden centers, commercial and residential landscape services, and more. View the full list Essential businesses mut develop strategies, procedures, and practices to allow for social distancing protocols consistent with guidance provided by the CDC and the Division of Public Health. [updated 3/27/20]
       
       

      In addition to the questions and answers found on this page, we have also compiled topical information, guidance, and resources to help support you and your operation: [updated 3/24/20]

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