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COVID-19 agriculture updates: April 07

Another day has come and gone and today brings sunshine and some solid information.

  1. Overview of Selected Disaster Assistance Programs Benefiting Florida Small Businesses including Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries (COVID-19) – UF has just made this incredibly helpful website live.
  2. Opportunity to list your excess products for sale on FDACS’s website: To limit market disruptions, FDACS is working to collect information on agriculture/fisheries operations who have products to sell and those seeking agricultural commodities.   See the attachment called “Ag and Seafood Availability Notice”
    • By submitting this form to FDACS you agree to have this information posted on the FDACS website or sent to potential buyers or food banks who may be interested in your commodity.
      • Any interested buyers will contact you directly, and it will be up to you and the interested parties to negotiate terms.
      • FDACS is not a party to any transaction and assumes no responsibility as to any aspect of a resulting transaction.
      • Please submit form via email to FLfarmtoyou@fdacs.gov
      • Side note for those of you who are growing 30 or 40 different crops right now: you have to submit a new form for each of the crops you would like to have listed (aka, you can’t just submit a single form for “vegetables” or “fruit”)
  3. Opportunity to list your produce for sale on Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association’s website:
    • If you or a company you know of is selling product to the public, please email information@ffva.com as soon as possible with the following information. FFVA will share on social media and on their website.
      • Company name:
      • Address of sales location:
      • Phone number:
      • Facebook page:
      • Twitter:
      • Produce available for sale:
      • Sales hours:
  4. Opportunity to list your products for sale on local website:
    • Sarasota County Extension partnered with local non-profit, Transition Sarasota to create a place for local farms to advertise alternative drop-off sites for pre-boxed/pre-ordered products. When new farms are added, Transition Sarasota sends an email to their very large email list and we both send out facebook posts and other social media blasts encouraging the general public to support local producers. This website is a place to list any type of agricultural product you have: honey, seedlings, eggs, meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, microgreens, etc.
  5. Donations of agricultural products:
    • We are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to figure out a strategic plan for coordinated donations of what you are currently unable to sell. The emergency food system in the region has a very high need for donations right now.
      • This is what I am hearing from food bank and food pantry managers right now: they need fresh food, but they can’t take huge amounts at one time (not enough on-site cold storage) and they need to know that you have a donation to make at least a few days before you want to make it so that they can make a distribution plan. It is more manageable for the food banks/pantries to receive a large donation of 10 different types of vegetables (for example) than a large donation of a single type of vegetable.
      • If you want to learn more about how making donations now can help you at tax time, visit this very easy to use page on FDACS’s website: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/84633/file/tax-incentives-and-protection-from-liability.pdf
  6. Information about employee PTO, unemployment benefits, etc:
    • If you have had to lay an employee off:
      • An employee cannot use PTO while also collecting unemployment
      • In theory, there should be no lag-time between applying for unemployment and starting to receive benefits (special timeline for the COVID-19 crisis). However, there is currently a backlog of more than 560,000 applications and the website to file for unemployment is having problems because too many people are trying to use it. It may take multiple tries before an application goes through. Over 62,000 people filed for unemployment in Florida on Sunday alone.
      • At this time, the max unemployment benefit in Florida is $275/week.
      • Here’s the website for applying for unemployment benefits: http://floridajobs.org/job-seekers
        • If you have employees who are not good with computers, have limited literacy, or other barriers, this will very likely be a difficult website for them to navigate. They will need help.
        • Here’s the website in Spanish: http://floridajobs.org/espanol

 

Let me know if you have questions about any of this or are having trouble with filling out applications for anything.


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