AG ONE Newsletter April 20, 2020

Dear Reader:

Today, Governor Wolf announced the easing of some restrictions.  Hopefully, that marks the beginning of the end of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis which has decimated much of Pennsylvania’s Agriculture economy. The stay at home order has been extended until May 8.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips    ******************************************

NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITY FOR FARMERS, PROCESSORS

Between April 20 and 24, businesses with 250 employees or less involved in production and processing foods may apply for up to a $15,000 grant from Giant Foods.  Details:

https://teampa.com/giant-ag-grants/.

GOVERNOR LOOSENS SOME BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS

On April 20, Governor Tom Wolf announced several measures designed to loosen the March business closing edict issued in March. Construction may resume May 8.  Links follow:

Governor’s Business Amendment
Health Secretary’s Business Amendment
Online Car Sales Guidance
Updated Industry Operation Guidance
Updated Industry Operation FAQ

Remote notarization (important to auto and farm equipment sales and farm credit) is included as part of Senate Bill 841 which was signed into law as Act 15 of 2020.by Governor Wolf.

CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS      

  • The May 11 PA State Council of Farm Organizations (PSCFO) Board and Council are cancelled.
  • FFA’s annual summer Washington Leadership Conference is cancelled.  Dates of the National FFA Convention & Exposition remain Oct. 28-31 in Indianapolis.
  • The Penn State. Trustee election by agricultural interests has been postponed, date to be announced.  Details: 814-865-9561 or sll5@psu.edu.
  • American Guernsey Association’s June 2020 convention in Seven Springs is cancelled. The 2021 date is June 12-15, again at Seven Springs.
  • PA Cattlemens’ Association evaluation of a new date for its annual convention will be announced after May 1st.  Details: 717-825-9824, pca@pacattlemen.org .
  • The April 23 in-person meeting of the Legislative Task Force & Advisory Committee on High-Speed Broadband Services is cancelled. The next meeting will be remote May 8.

PUC ISSUES PHONE SUBSIDY REMINDER

The PA Utility Commission (PUC) issued a reminder to those under the Federal Poverty Guidelines that they are eligible for Federal subsidies on their land line telephone or Internet service.  Current amounts are $7.25 monthly for landline or wireless and $9.25 for Broadband, fixed or mobile.   Yearly income eligibility is $17,226 for one person, $23,274 for two, $29,322 for three, $35,370 for four persons and $6,048 per person thereafter. How to apply:  Lifeline Telephone and Broadband Assistance Program www.kifelinesupport.org or 1-800-234-9473.

The PUC reports that Verizon has the Lifeline 100 program offering an additional $2.50 subsidy.

LEGISLATIVE UDATES

While the General Assembly is focused on coping with COVID-19, for example passing legislation to rescind Governor Wolf’s business closure decree Senate Bill 613 (Mensch-R-Bucks/Berks/Montgomery) vetoed April 20 and Senate Bill 327 (Argall-R-Schuylkill/Berks), there were other actions affecting rural PA.

  • Legislation requiring business interruption insurance policies to cover losses caused by COVID-19 was introduced by Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.).  Senate Bill 1114 was referred to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee April 15.  A companion bill, House Bill 2372 (Dermody-D-Allegheny) was introduced and referred to the House Insurance Committee April 3.
  • Senate Bill 1097 (Mastriano-R-Franklin) would make the temporary OK on remote notarization permanent.  Status: Reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 15.
  • House Bill 1869 (Owlett-R-Tioga/Potter/Bradford) would relax some of the staffing requirements for emergency medical services – something potentially important in hard-pressed rural areas.  It was reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 15.

PSCFO AG DIRECTORY REMINDER

The PSCFO Agricultural Directory for 2020 has been released.  Some quantities are available free of charge to PSCFO members, the media, and public officials.  For non-members and others, there will be a modest charge for shipping and handling.  Please advise PSCFO by emailing xenobun@aol.com.

USDA ANNOUNCES RURAL COVID-19 RESOURCES

  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant proposals are due by June 15, 2020.
  • Until September 30, 2020, lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for USDA Business & Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, and Water & Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.
  • USDA issued the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resources Guide on April 13.  It is billed as a one-stop-shop of Federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations, and individuals affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

TO NOTE…Penn State Center for Pollinator Research has a new website containing educational lesson plans relating to ecology and habitat.  Might this be an at-home educational resource?  Details:  https://ento.psu.edu/pollinators/resources-and-outreach/materials-for-k-12-classroom.

Leave a Reply