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. A summary of new content is also shared daily through out Daily Ag-Covid-19 email.
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 online sessions will be held Monday Mornings (10-11am) and Wednesday Evenings (7-8pm) moving forward.
There is no set end date for the calls at this time.
Is there a community mental health center in my area, or a national hotline I can call?
Text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7
Remember you do not need to be in crisis to connect with a mental health provider. Connect at any time to help develop strategies that work for you and your farms specific needs. [updated 5/14/2020]
Have the Scale Clinics been canceled?
The Division of Weights and Measures scale certification clinics, scheduled through the end of May 2020, have been canceled due to COVID-19 mandates. The clinic scheduled for 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
For licensees whose scales were certified in 2019, you may delay certification until the scale clinics are rescheduled. If you are unable to attend a scale clinic, you are still required to have your scale/s certified in 2020 by a licensed service technician; which has always been an option.
For licensees whose scales were certified in 2018, you must have your scale/s certified before any commercial transaction takes place over the scale/s. Because it is not known when the scale clinics will be rescheduled, you may need to have your scale certified by a licensed service company.
Are Farmers Markets Considered Essential Businesses? What is the direction from the Governor on this?
Restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more people do not apply to farmers’ markets. “Emergency Order #16, which prohibits scheduled gatherings of 10 or more, does not apply to Farmer’s Markets. Emergency Order 16 says that the prohibition does not apply to the day to day operations of for profit or not for profit organizations. Because Farmer’s Markets are on the essential business list, the exception for day to day operations of for profit or not for profit operations applies to Farmer’s Markets.” [updated 5/4/20]
Is there any guidance available for farmers selling at Farmers Markets?
Is there any guidance for community gardens?
Here are two COVID-19 resources for Community Gardens:
What disinfectants work on COVID-19?
US EPA's list
is the most complete list available.
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]
Dairy & Livestock
How can I buy pigs out of state and bring them into NH?
A note from the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food:
The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food is seeing, and hearing about, a substantial uptick in the importations of pigs into New Hampshire. Some are arriving legally, with proper health papers, identification, and department-issued permits. Reportedly some are not. Most seem to be intended for resale once they arrive in NH. By statute, RSA 427:38-47, this requires a license from the department as a livestock dealer. A number of the importers are not legally licensed as dealers. Licensing mitigates the risks of both disease spread and animal welfare issues. If you plan to import and resell, get a license. If you plan to buy pigs, ask if the seller is licensed. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/buying-pigs-out-state
Would a dairy farm be eligible for an EIDL loan due to the recent drop in farm milk prices?
Dairy farms would be eligible for EIDL loans, the loans are not commodity specific. [updated 4/06/20]
How are veterinary Services being affected by this?
Veterinary services are considered an essential business in NH during this crisis. The executive order from Governor Sununu gives veterinary practices a lot of leeway as to how they would like to handle the situation in the best interest of their patients, clients, staff and community. Many practices, include those who regularly treat large animals on farms, have postponed routine/elective appointments and are limiting their services to emergency/urgent cases in an effort to protect both clients and veterinary staff. Owner's should contact their veterinarian's office directly to find out how they are handling the situation. The state has also allowed more flexibility for veterinarian's to practice telehealth over the phone, by video chat, etc. to decrease the need for in-person appointments. So, farmers should call their veterinarians with any questions or concerns and they will decide on a case-by-case basis how best to handle a particular case. [updated 4/02/20]
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]
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
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
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
What do I do if one of my employees comes to work sick?
What does the Family First Corona Virus Response Act mean for my farm?
What am I supposed to disinfect and What am I supposed to sanitize? Is there a difference?
There is a two-part blog on Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting on the UNH Extension website:
Where can I get free masks for my staff?
Business Owners can help protect themselves, employees, customers and community. Masks are available to NH businesses at no charge; just pick up your order at a local DMV. Businesses in need of disposable masks may use the form linked below to request masks from the State of New Hampshire. It is the responsibility of the business to re-order masks as needed. Mask Order Form for Businesses - Homeland Security Emergency Management [updated 5/4/20]
Given the NH ban on reusable bags from the Governor, can customers bag the products they buy themselves?
According to the NH DHHS- Food Protection reusable bags are NOT to be used at this time.
One way around it is to have sanitizable shopping baskets available for customers to use, like the plastic ones at the grocery store. Customers could put their items into it and them bring it back to their car to repackage into their own reusable bags. When returned, it should be wiped down with a sanitizing wipe or sprayed and wiped down with sanitizer for the next customer. [updated 5/4/20]
What is the FDA guidance on the Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings on the farm?
We can’t find gloves anywhere. Do you know of any sources?
Locally, Ocean State Job Lot sends a weekly email with periodic updates on supply levels of essential supplies such as wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer. You can sign up for their mailing list and stock up when their supplies are restocked.
Online sources: Many gloves are in stock according to their web page notations. From this link you select the size you are looking for and then will see a list of gloves in that size that are in stock or drop shipped from the manufacturer and those that are out of stock/backorders. This morning I found in stock and drop ship choices in all sizes https://www.zoro.com/disposable-gloves/c/6932/
Some elevated prices but a few good deals. Search “All” category for disposable gloves www.amazon.com
I can’t find masks for my workers- what should we do?
Cloth and DIY masks are recommended for everyone in public, including farm workers and other food workers. They don’t have to be, and actually shouldn’t be, the kind meant for healthcare workers- as they are in short supply. The purpose of wearing a face covering is to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus from individuals who may be infected but are not showing symptoms. CDC is recommending
the voluntary use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.More information on Cloth Face Coverings for Food Employees
from NCSU. [updated 4/16/20]
What are some best practices for getting frozen meat to, and selling it at, the Farmers' Market?
Where can I find NH Farmers Market posters that tell shoppers about the precautions that we are enforcing for staff and customer safety?
The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food has produced these colorful poster for downloading. [updated 4/13/20]
How to proceed with safe food handling after the virus has infected a worker?
This CDC guidance is on what to do if a person has COVID-19 and when they are considered safe to go back to work: [updated 4/13/20]
If ONE person on my crew is washing & packing produce ALONE - ie, no social distancing required with another crew member - is the food safety recommendation to wear a mask?
Masks will prevent anyone who is infected, but not showing symptoms, from spreading the virus to co-workers. There has been no evidence that coronavirus is spread via food or food packaging. So if a lone pack house worker never has occasion to work in close contact with another person, then they would not have to wear a mask. [updated 4/10/20]
Are there any resources for "how-to's" for delivery drivers to use cloth masks? Trying to set up protocols.
The CDC just released guidance for Managing Food Pick-Up and Delivery
They don’t mention mask wearing, but do recommend social distancing techniques:
Establish designated pick-up zones for customers to help maintain social distancing.
Practice social distancing when delivering food, e.g., offering “no touch” deliveries and sending text alerts or calling when deliveries have arrived.
A mask is to prevent people who are shedding virus, but do not have symptoms, from infecting others.
If the delivery driver is alone, and uses social distancing techniques, it wouldn’t be necessary to wear a mask.
If the driver is with others in the delivery vehicle, or if the driver will be in contact with customers, masks, enhanced hand hygiene and disinfecting of high touch surfaces in the delivery vehicle are recommended.
(Scroll down to Social Distancing, Disinfecting & Other Precautions) If a worker chooses to use a cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19:
NOTE: The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. [updated 4/10/20]
Will On Farm Readiness Reviews and Inspections for farms covered under FSMA's Produce Safety Rule be conducted this summer?
The FDA has issued a temporary stop work order that will prevent these activities until further notice. However, farms are still required to comply with the rule. For more details including contact information for Victoria Smith, the Produce Safety Program Planner, please CLICK HERE
Are reusable bags prohibited at the farmer's market or farm stand?
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
Do 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]
How 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]
Are there any free posters in different languages that I can use to inform staff and customers about COVID-19 precautions?
These free downloadable posters from The Acheson Group, a food safety consulting business, may help communicate with staff and customers who are non-English speakers:
Posters on COVID-19 Precautions
Why Wear Masks
A Day in the Life as Precautions are Relaxed
COVID-19 Preventive Measures to help stop the spread of Covid-19
Masks and Face Coverings -Best Practices
COVID Symptoms in Words
COVID Symptoms in Pictures
I missed the webinar last week about the Family First Corona Virus Act, what do I need to know?
All private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and all public sector employees (regardless of the number of employees) need to follow this law. The law became effective on April 1, 2020 and runs through December 31, 2020. There are six reasons an employee can take leave. Poster must be placed in a conspicuous spot or posted in one of several acceptable ways. You can learn more by clicking on the following link. Within this link you will have access to additional resources and information. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/labor-and-unemployment-q-farm-businesses#FamilyFirst
Is there a Family First Corona Virus Act poster I can put up to let my staff know about this?
What's new with the EIDL for Ag Businesses?
Agriculture enterprises can begin submitting applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. These applications will be accepted on a limited basis and on a first come first serve basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.
Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.
Do farms and other small businesses need to comply with the Family First Coronavirus Response Act? Aren’t they exempt if following this law jeopardizes the viability of their business?
Businesses, farms included, who have fewer than 50 employees may qualify for the small business exemption only for the childcare-related leave portion of the law if certain conditions are met and documented. All other aspects of the law need to be followed. The law became effective April 1, 2020 and is in effect until December 31, 2020. For more information, please click on the following link: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/labor-and-unemployment-q-farm-businesses#FFCRA [updated 4/23/20]
Please also join our webinar on this topic on Wednesday, April 28, 2020 from 7-8 pm.
What can I do if my H-2A workers cant arrive because of travel bans in their country or ours?
The Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has announced a temporary final rule to change certain H-2A requirements. These give flexibility to use H-2A workers already in the U.S. and also flexibility regarding their length of stay. Click here for more information.
Is there social distancing signage available in different languages?
Yes, these posters are free to print out and use and are available in several languages, including English, Spanish, simplified Chinese, French and Vietnamese. [ updated 4/10/20]
Social distancing poster in English:
Social distancing poster in simplified Chinese:
Social distancing poster in Spanish:
Social distancing poster in French:
Can UNHCE help me understand the Paycheck Protection Program from SBA?
How does my Farm/Market become a SNAP approved vendor?
SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families. The first step in participating in SNAP is to get a FNS number through the USDA. Once USDA gives you this number, you can begin taking SNAP sales on your farm. Under normal circumstances it takes several weeks for USDA to process. From there you can add SNAP to your POS/sales device. If using square, you would use a program called “Market Link”. Most modern POS devises have SNAP capabilities. Visit here to begin: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/farmer-producer
How does my Farm/Market become involved with Granite State Market Match?
Granite State Market Match is a NH based SNAP incentive program for fresh fruit and vegetables only. You first need to be enrolled in SNAP. Once you have your FNS number, you can contact Brendan Cornwell at the NH Food Bank, and he can add you to this additional incentive program. For more information, Call 603-669-9725 ext. 1128 | email@example.com
Is the Paycheck Protection Program open for applications?
Applications can begin on Friday, April 3, 2020
for small businesses and sole proprietorships through existing SBA 7(a) lenders, and Friday, April 10, 2020
, for independent contractors and self-employed individuals through existing SBA 7(a) lenders. ***Please contact your lender immediately, as funding is limited. Click here for details.
What is the Paycheck Protection Program, and how might my business benefit from it?
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes those employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. Links to more detail for lenders and borrowers can be found here: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/financial-resources-farmers-related-covid-19
Are there any updates on the CARES Act and what farmers may expect for assistance?
The CARES Act included direct payments to individuals and families. The following link takes you to an IRS page that answers questions and provides information about this effort: CLICK HERE
. [updated 4/01/20]
I am still waiting to learn when I might expect my H-2A workers. Are there any updates about this?
The arrival of H-2A workers is hard to judge and is dependent on several factors. One of the greatest obstacles as of writing this question is ability of H-2A workers to access transportation to the U.S. and then to the state in which they are working. Other barriers have been addressed by the Department of State to try and remove these obstacles. To read more about this please see our post at https://extension.unh.edu/blog/labor-and-unemployment-q-farm-businesses
I heard that there have been changes made to Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Are these now available to farms and agricultural enterprises?
As of Friday, March 27, when President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, SBA EIDL loans became available to farmers and agricultural enterprises.
There have unfortunately been glitches in the system, and as of this writing (March 31), the system does not yet allow farmers to apply. NH Farm Bureau is working with Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office to have this fixed. Likewise, American Farm Bureau and New England Farmers’ Union are also working with Congressional staff to address and fix this. Stay Tuned! For additional information, please see our post at: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/financial-assistance-programs-farmers
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
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 (
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.
Can 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]
Are the common greenhouse sanitizers Greenshield or ZeroTol effective against COVID-19 on impervious surfaces?
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.
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]