The efforts of our farmers and farmers’ markets to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and continue to provide the public with locally-grown food have been amazing. Our goal is to connect as many consumers as possible directly to farmers and agricultural produces in the Southeastern MA region.
As of 6/15/2021, all remaining COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and the state of emergency has ended in Massachusetts. Mask requirements remain in place in certain environments, including private businesses that require it.
Vaccinations – Everyone age 12+ who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need health insurance or an ID to receive the vaccine. A mobile vaccination program is available to employers; sign up here to bring a mobile vaccine clinic to your farmworkers. Find more information or an individual vaccination appointment here.
Labor Management – CDC guidance for agricultural employers has been updated as of 2/2/21. They suggest exposure minimization, sanitizing practices, modifications for shared housing, adapted sick/leave policies, contingency plans, and more. OSHA also provides COVID-19 guidance for employers generally.
Pick-Your-Own and Other Agritourism Activities – Guidance for PYO and other agritourism activities was released as on 7/24/20, and includes suggestions for capacity, social distancing, sanitization, on-farm transport, and more. None of these guidelines are obligatory as of 5/29/21.
WHERE TO SELL
Farmers Markets – The CDC provides guidance for farmers market managers and stalls as of 9/17/20, including the set-up of handwashing stations, pick-up options and layout modifications, appropriate signage, sanitization, and more. None of this guidance is obligatory as of 5/29/21, but individual markets may have their own set of mandated precautions. A list of currently operating markets is housed here.
Collaborative Marketing Software Platforms – If you are a farmer looking to combine forces with other growers in your local network to organize group ordering, CSA, or food hub coordination to serve your local/regional community and consumers, you may want to review the following food aggregation and delivery software:
Payroll Protection Program (PPP) – This grant program under the CARES Act helps employers support their payroll despite profit loss. Applications are closed for this loan program, but if you have already received a PPP loan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) – Agricultural businesses with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for this loan program if they are unable to meet operating costs.
Tax credits and deferrals – Small businesses (including many small farms) may be eligible for tax credits and/or deferrals based on decreased sales, temporary or permanent shut-down, or other circumstances created by COVID-19.
Crop insurance, farm credit, and market manipulation – The USDA regularly updates a list of farmer resources and FAQs related to these financial areas.