Small Business Benefits and the CARES Act: What Farm and Food Producers Need to Know - News   Michigan organic Listserv

April  7, 2020

Shared info to help you farm

Center for Regional Food Systems

Vicki Morrone [log in to unmask]


What’s on offer?

Approaches to continue direct market sales

Opportunities to apply for economic assistance from government FOR FARMERS

What is the CARES Act (Federal govt COVID-19  funds)

Produce Safety Update via webinar, today at NOON! (see below)

On Farm Produce Safety Update and Resources


I wish all of you good health and safety during this time of pandemic disease and world-wide crisis. May all of you have a safe and productive season and that our markets can be redesigned to support our great farmers and our people seeking quality food. Peace




Ideas to support local farmers AND farmers how to help your customers support you…


1. Using e cards to keep your customer base current

Hey Friends

, I hope this e news finds you and your family well. Peace during this challenging time.

Are you a farmer that relies on direct sales?  I wonder, have you ever considered a way for your customers to buy gift cards from you to later purchase goods/food from your business?  Here is the link if you would like to check it out!! Set up eGift Cards now

This site is that im sharing is from Square (the same company that offers a credit card:phone apparatus/system that allows you to take credit cards at markets). They walk you through the steps to set this system up on online… where you can put it on your website or email  such as your newsletter.

Just fyi there is a 2.9% fee plus .30/card to accept cash from the Square eGift Cards

. You could share this with the link to purchase a card and perhaps the buyer would bump up the amount to help cover this cost? I know some of the donation sites do this and I use it so chances are others do too.

All the best and please hope you are all healthy.



Sign up now to set up free digital gift cards from Square, so your
customers can gift your business anytime, from anywhere online.

Set up eGift Cards now



2. A video series that offers ways to set up an online ordering system

University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture is offering webinars and listening sessions for farms sharing ways to keep markets alive during this time of market closures and stay at home orders.  Since in the state of Vermont there are many organic farms so this information may be useful to you, too whether you are seeking alternative market approaches or sourcing inputs during this national quarantine due to the Norovirus 19 epidemic


·         Oregon Tilth free webinar about online sales platforms

·         UM Rapid Response Local Foods College

·         Michigan’s Eastern Market consumer communication:

·         Attached resource from Meg McGrath (NY) from growers who created a list of online marketing platforms with pros/cons/prices. Support by SARE. Awesome.

o    Auction Order-Buy systems shared by Judd Reid (NY), Brad Bergefurd (OH)

·         One employee call buyers with a summary of what is available. Buyers tell the auction employee what they want, how much they want, and how much they will pay. The auction employee bids for them up to their maximum bid.


Some economic assistance during the COVID 19 Pandemic


Businesses are hurting, many persons have been laid off and our food system is definitely disrupted as business are closed and people quarantined to their homes.


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) or phase III of the federal stimulus package outlines additional benefits to small food and farm businesses.

This is a $9.5 billion administered by the USDA is specifically dedicated to providing financial assistance to specialty crop growers, livestock producers and dairy farmers.

An additional $14 billion goes to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, which is a funding mechanism within the USDA, that covers programs such as Price Loss Coverage and Dairy Margin Coverage, natural resource conservation program, disaster assistance programs and the Market Facilitation Program.

Although, phase III of the federal stimulus bill or the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 many funded departments and programs are still organizing mechanisms for businesses and producers to apply for funds. Please reach out to your local lenders, the Small Business Administration and the USDA for follow up information about how to access benefits outlined in the CARES Act for your farm or business.  Note as of this publication the EIDL program is only available to food businesses, not farmers. This program would provide $10,000 to the business (of under 500 employees) as an advance that is not paid back.

Here is a booklet that is most helpful and very easy to understand about these two programs available to farm businesses: the PPP and the EIDL. The latter is not YET supported by Small Business Administration and Congress is trying to change that. But for now note that you are eligible to apply to the PPP program, which means you can apply to it now, visit this guide to get the details and link to the form, If you have trouble downloading this doc, email me and I can email it to you as a PDF.

A list of financial support programs now available: Download the Guide Now (it explains everything clearly and gives examples of  farm applications.

1. All those US citizens who filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 will automatically receive $1200 each or $2400 if you filed as a married couple. Parents will also receive $500 for each child. This benefit is for persons/families who have $75,000/$150,000 of taxable income.

2. Right NOW! This may change if congress peruses the SBA to allow farmers. farmers are not eligible to apply to the EIDL program. This program offer $10,000 for each food related business (yes I agree, farming is a food business so call your congressional rep for your area and share your thoughts)

3. But farmers are eligible to apply to the PPP program. Read below to see samples of applications and benefits, as it depends on farm size.


There are 2 main programs that offer federal relief funds; The paycheck protection plan or PPP and the Many messages have been coming my way in the last day regarding farmer eligibility for the Federal Coronavirus Relief Bill (CARES) Act. The Small Farms Team and other farm support organizations have been working on distilling the information so you can decide what will work for your individual farms.



Farmers are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and starting April 3 small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply.


  1. The PPP is a forgivable loan to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and employee and compensation levels are maintained. Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs  
  2. The PPP is first come first serve so if you are thinking of applying I would do it sooner than later.
  3. First, you have to contact your bank to get in line for this, so reach out to them asap if interested, sometimes the link will be under their "loans" tab.  Not all banks are offering this, many are in the process of applying to become approved lenders, reach out to another bank if needed. (US Bank and OnPoint do).
  4. This form reflects the information that will be collected  (the information will be collected electronically)
  5. Provide payroll documentation to lenders.
  6. We continue to hear that many lenders still don't have critical info from SBA to start processing loans, and apparently some SBA field staff are still telling farmers they aren't eligible. We are trying to get SBA to issue clarity on this but if you have heard from your SBA lender that farmers are NOT eligible for PPP, please let me know (and send me name of lender and reason as well). 


Additional PPP resources:

·          PPP Borrowers Information Sheet

·         General PPP Information

·          PPP Sample Loan Application


Benefits and the CARES Act:

What Farm and Food Producers Need to Know


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) or phase III of the federal stimulus package outlines additional benefits to small food and farm businesses.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) or phase III of the federal stimulus package was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020 and outlines additional benefits for small businesses across the country.

But im extracting only parts that are relevant to farmers.  If you would like to see the whole document visit:


Concerned about food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic?


This Wednesday, MIFFS will be supporting the webinar presented by MSU Extension: :On-farm Produce Safety for Small Farm Growers in the Age of COVID-19." Below is the flyer and the link( to the zoom on Wednesday, April 8 at Noon. Phone option available as well: US: +1 312 626 6799 Webinar ID: 922 813 956


Please reach out to us with any questions about this program or any other resources available. We are continuing to add to the COVID resource database on


Stay Safe,




On-farm Produce Safety for Small Growers in the Age of COVID-19

This program will provide information about best practices for training workers, and cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces at markets and on the farm. In the midst of the Novel COVID-19 Pandemic, and with our growing season just around the corner, we know you have many questions about keeping people and produce safe. This program will discuss what products can be used, how much should be used, as well as how to educate and protect employees and your customers.



Small Growers of Fresh Produce, Farm Marketers, U– Pick Operations


As produce growers and direct farm marketers, it is hard to know what we can and should do within our normal production activities to support public health in these uncertain times.

During this FREE, one hour, online program, we will highlight fact-based best practices for cleaning and sanitizing in a grower to grower forum, and also provide useful information on worker training, health, and hygiene. Information and resources for communicating and working with the public and customers will also be provided.


This event is FREE!

Join us April 8th, 2020 at 12 Noon ET

paste this link into your browser:

For telephone: US: +1 312 626 6799 Webinar ID: 922 813 956












Gaining Knowledge and Information

Yes, if you are on YouTube and you search “MSU cover crops” the first hit that comes up should be our channel (full name is "MSU Cover Crops & Soil Health Team”). This is the place where you can find the videos all posted together.


Here is a link to you channel as well!


Produce Safety Rule Update


.Hello, Michigan Produce Farmers!

This is the first email (from their fresh produce listserv) to everyone that signed up for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Produce Safety Team listserv.  This listserv was developed to help Michigan farmers understand the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), and keep up to date on inspections, changes and updates to the rule, and educational opportunities. 

 COVID-19 Information

**According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website, there is currently no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted by food or food packaging material, including fresh produce. For information on food safety and COVID-19, please refer to the FDA’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions at:

 Additional information can be found on Michigan’s Coronavirus response at Additional resources for industry partners and consumers can be found at


What every farmer who sells fresh produce should know

What is the Produce Safety Rule?

The PSR is one of seven rules within the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at ensuring the safety of the US food supply by shifting focus from response to contamination to prevention of contamination. This is the most sweeping reform of our nation's food safety laws in more than 70 years. FSMA was enacted in response to dramatic changes in the global food system and the understanding of foodborne illness and its consequences, including the realization that preventable foodborne illness is both a significant public health problem and a threat to the economic well-being of the food system.

The PSR focuses on setting the first-ever federal regulatory standards for the production, harvest, and handling of fruits and vegetables in an effort to prevent microbial contamination and reduce foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce.


Is my farm covered under the PSR?

If you grow, harvest, pack or hold produce typically eaten raw, and gross over $25,000 annually, this regulation may apply to you.

There are some exclusions and exemptions that may apply to your farm.  You can find information regarding further assistance at the end of this email. 


What areas of my farm does the PSR cover?

  • Worker health, hygiene, and training
  • Agricultural water, both for production and post-harvest uses
  • Biological soil amendments (e.g., compost, manure)
  • Domesticated and wild animals
  • Equipment, tools, buildings, and sanitation


Is an inspection the same as an audit?

No!  An inspection is very different from an audit. 

Table that highlights the differences between an Inspection and an Audit

Where can I get further assistance?

We have three main agencies that are working together to assist Michigan produce farms.  While we work as a team, we have separate roles. 


Conservation Districts:

You can get free, confidential, on-farm technical assistance and education from your local Conservation District Produce Safety Technician.  The link below is a map with name and contact information of a Technician in your area.  If the map does not show coverage in your county, please contact a Technician closest to you, they can provide assistance outside of their normal coverage areas.


MSU Extension:

MSU Extension provides professional trainings, seminars, and education regarding the PSR.

Online information and education can be found on the MSU Extension website:


Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

     Farm Survey and Listserv for Food safety from MDARD

A survey to Estimate your farms level of food safety risk

MDARD has a farm survey where you can provide information regarding your farm. You’re probably wondering why you would want to do this. The more information MDARD has about your farm, there is an increased chance you will be lower on the priority list to get an inspection. Any blank entries will result in increasing your priority. Inspections are typically announced. However, if MDARD does not have contact information for the farm, a farm manager or food safety manager, we will not be able to contact you to schedule an inspection, which could lead to an inspector showing up without warning.  Please take five minutes of your time to complete the survey below.

Food safety update information will be sent through the Listserv at least quarterly but more often as needed. As we roll out information about the PSR and inspections, you will most likely see an email monthly. Upcoming articles will include the following information:

  1. What to expect before and during an inspection
  2. Updates to the water rule
  3. How to provide information if I believe I’m qualified exempt

For additional information or any questions, please contact Kristin Esch, Produce Safety Specialist, MDARD, at 517-930-6592 or [log in to unmask].


Grant Information

Considering to apply for a USDA grant? Learn how to acquire a DUNs number needed to apply for USDA grants

If your business is a non profit organization or small business and you may or will apply for a USDA grant you can learn how to apply for a DUNS number, a required registration for anyone applying for a USDA grant, This webinar is free but does ask you to register.  Go to Register for the Webinar Training Webinar TODAY!
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 2:00-3:00 pm EST is the website federal grant-making agencies use to post grant funding opportunities and where the public can find and apply for those opportunities. The goal of the presentation is to provide information on how to use the website to apply for AMS grant programs. Topics covered in the presentation include how to register in Dun & Bradstreet, track a submitted application, find (search) for funding opportunities and apply for those opportunities.

This webinar will be conducted by staff.








Vicki Morrone

Organic Farming Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-282-3557 (cell)

[log in to unmask]

sorrone11 (skype)



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