COVID-19

RESOURCES

UPDATED MAY 26TH, 2020

A Letter From Our President & CEO.

 

Dear WG Members,

There is a flood of information – and misinformation – pouring in related to SARS CoV 2 (the virus) and COV 19 (the disease). Western Growers has a full team of staff experts sifting and sorting through this information to find what is useful for our grower and handler members, but this is complicated by the rapidly-evolving nature of the outbreak and public response. In these challenging times, please know that our staff is available as a resource for you, and we pledge that if we don’t know the answer to your question or concern, we will work earnestly to find it on your behalf. You can find our staff contact information broken down by subject matter expertise listed below.

Dave Puglia

Dave Puglia
President & CEO
Western Growers

 

WG President and CEO Addresses Collapse in Foodservice Sector

An estimated 50% of all produce in the U.S. is consumed in restaurants, schools, hotels and other away-from-home settings. The stay-at-home orders issued by all but five states have resulted in the complete collapse of the foodservice sector along with a critical outlet for farmers. 

The CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third aid package from Congress, is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history and will allocate $2.2. trillion to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Western Growers members will be particularly interested in the agricultural, business loan, and business tax provisions. This section contains general summaries of the CARES Act, as well as specific guidance on applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, the small business forgivable loan program.    

 

Summary of Ag and Business Provisions
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Western Growers Guide to COVID-19

Families First Coronavirus
Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) contains an unprecedented response by the federal government to the national health emergency by mandating paid sick time and paid family medical leave to employees impacted by COVID-19. This section contains helpful fact sheets and questions and answers from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, which has the authority to investigate and enforce compliance with the FFCRA. Western Growers members will want to check out the informative webinar on paid leave mandates provided by expert staff.

Western Growers Guidance for Employers

What should growers and handlers of fresh produce be doing to ensure the safety of their workers and product during the COVID-19 pandemic? This section contains a collection of Western Growers-created guidance prepared by the experts on staff. Topics include best practices for the safe harvesting, packing and handling of fresh produce; prevention measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; and what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

Government Guidance for Employers

What do you need to do to prepare your workplace for COVID-19? What are the responsibilities of employers and the rights of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic? This section provides helpful links to state and federal agencies with jurisdiction in the workplace.

Additional Resources

Didn’t find what you were looking for in the other sections? It’s probably here. This section contains COVID-19 resources related to food safety, PACA, transportation, emergency preparedness, crisis management, workers’ compensation and more.

WG Staff Contact
Cory Lunde,

Sr. Director Communications
949-885-2264
clunde@wga.com

Frequently Asked Questions

How can my agricultural operation access the relief funds in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act?
  • Small Businesses (less than 500 employees)
    • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Provides small businesses with forgivable loans to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
      • You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit System institution.
      • While the initial funding for the program was depleted, additional funding was allocated as part of the “Phase 3.5” relief packaged signed into law by President Trump on April 24.
      • The SBA will begin taking loan applications the week of April 27.
      • For additional information, visit:
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Agricultural entities are now eligible for this loan program, which allows small businesses to borrow up to $2 million with an initial grant of up to $10,000. EIDLs are low-interest loans (3.75%) to cover accounts payable, fixed debts, payroll, and other bills. You may get both an EIDL and a PPP loan, as long as they don’t pay for the same expenses. 
      • You can apply directly with the Small Business Administration (SBA). 
      • While the initial funding for the program was depleted, additional funding was allocated as part of the “Phase 3.5” relief packaged signed into law by President Trump on April 24.
      • Monitor the SBA Coronavirus Relief Options website for application details and availability.
  • Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (up to 10,000 employees)
    • Main Street Lending Program: Provides loans to small and medium-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. businesses are eligible for loans if they meet either of the following conditions: (1) the business has 10,000 employees or fewer; or (2) the business had 2019 revenues of $2.5 billion or less. Loans will have a four-year maturity, and principal and interest payments on the loans will be deferred for one year. Eligible lenders may originate new loans or increase the size of existing loans made to eligible businesses.
      • The Federal Reserve is currently working to create the program infrastructure.
      • Once the program is operational, small and medium-sized businesses should seek to apply for loans from an eligible lender.
      • More information will be posted here as it becomes available;
      • For additional information, visit:
What new employer mandates are contained in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?
  • The FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020 and sunsets on December 31,2020, mandates paid sick time and paid family medical leave to employees impacted by COVID-19 for employers with fewer than 500 employees.
    • Paid Sick Time (PST)
      • Covered full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid leave.
      • If the leave is for child care that qualifies for emergency paid family leave they could be entitled to additional paid leave.
      • Part-time employees are entitled to a prorated amount based on the average number of hours the employee works during a two-week period.
    • Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)
      • An employee is eligible for PFML if they cannot work or telework due to the need to care for a son or daughter under 18 years of age if, because of a public health emergency regarding COVID-19, the child's school or place or care has been closed, or a child care provider is unavailable.
      • If an employee qualifies for PFML, the first ten days of leave is unpaid.
      • After ten days, an employee can receive up to ten weeks of pay.
    • Tax credits are immediately available to offset costs for covered employers.
  • For additional information and resources:
What can my agricultural operation do to ensure the safe harvest, packing and handling of fresh produce?
  • California farmers are required by federal law to follow “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.”
    • These practices minimize microbial hazards, including bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites.
    • Stressing the use of current requirements associated with good hygiene and work health practices is the most effective way to address concerns related to COVID-19.
  • WG has prepared guidance for safely harvesting, packing and handling fresh produce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What prevention measures should my agricultural operation adopt to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19?
  • Although the produce industry already has adopted good hygiene, cleaning/sanitation, and worker health practices to ensure the safety of the workforce and safety of produce, employers may wish to consider extra mitigation measures to safeguard their workforce and minimize the potential to spread of the COVID-19 disease.
  • WG has prepared guidance on additional prevention measures for office workers, and field and harvest workers.
Does my agricultural operation need to update our Injury and Illness Prevention Plan in response to COVID-19?
  • California employers are required to establish and implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) to protect employees from all worksite hazards, including infectious diseases.
  • The California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupation Safety and Health (CalOSHA) has provided guidance for agricultural employers on how to update their IIPPs to include preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
What should my agricultural operation do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19?
  • Currently, no federal or state agency is recommending employers send home all workers who have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
  • WG has prepared a summary of guidance from federal and state agencies.
Where can my agricultural operation get more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
  • CDFA is working closely with CalOES (Office of Emergency Services) to identify new or additional suppliers for PPE.
    • Click here to view the list. 
    • To the extent CDFA can, there has been an attempt to verify on a surface-level the vendors on this list. Because CDFA cannot fully vet the vendors, the buyer has an obligation to do their own vetting. 
  • Thomas, a well-established industrial supply company, has also developed a list of more than 1,000 suppliers of COVID-19 products, materials and manufacturing services.  
    • Click here to view the list.
    • According to Thomas, the suppliers listed have gone through a thorough vetting process to confirm legitimacy and availability of products and services. As always, we advise our members to do their own vetting of all suppliers.

Western Growers Staff Contact Info

Western Growers has a full team of experts on staff dedicated to gathering, reviewing and analyzing the latest COVID-19 information so our grower and handler members can be fully prepared with the knowledge they need to make informed business decisions. Because of the rapidly-evolving nature of the outbreak and public response, new information is coming in by the minute. Know that while we are all figuring this out together, and Western Growers staff will always be here to help you find the answers you are looking for. In this section, you can find our staff contact information broken down by subject matter expertise. Do not hesitate to contact us.