AG ONE Newsletter August 11, 2020 Part II

Dear Reader:

This is Part II of the AG ONE Newsletter Resource Edition.  If you know of additional resources, please pass that information on to PSCFO.  As always, thank you for your support of PA Agriculture.

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

MORE RESOURCES

  • The Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) announced two grant programs in August. 
  • First is a program planning, land acquisition, development of educational programs, etc. for snowmobile and related ATV projects. Applications only will be accepted electronically through DCNR’s online grant application system. Applications will be taken up through September 30, 2020.
  • DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program which safeguards PA’s non-game animals, native plants, and their habitats is receiving applications to protect native biodiversity. There are three funding areas, species surveys, conservation, and management.  Among the priorities for this grant is fire management.  Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, August 3, through 4:00 P.M. on Friday, September 25. Applications will only be accepted electronically through DCNR’s online grant application system.
  • Federal Resources

Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Ranchers and Veteran Farmers
OPPE-014: USDA is making approx. $15 million available funding to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE). Closing date: Aug. 26, 2020.

USDA: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provides direct relief to agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who have faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. Closing date:  Aug. 28, 2020.

Round Three Solicitation for Farmers to Families Food Box Program

USDA is currently accepting applications for round three of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.  Non-profit and faith-based organizations may apply to be distributors – or may consider partnering with contracted entities which participate.  Helpful information includes the Farmers to Families Food Box Program FAQs and How to Become a USDA Vendor.  Also informational webinars are posted here.

Additional commodities are covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline to apply for the program to September 11th, and producers with approved applications will receive their final payment.  To see a list of the additional commodities, go to https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Pennsylvania/news-releases/2020/stnr_08062020_037?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

  • PA Farm Bill
  • Conservation Excellence Grants fund on-farm measures that reduce erosion and improve soil and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Program opened July 1, 2020.  Contact: Eric Cramer 223-666-2558 or ecromer@pa.gov.
  • Dairy Indemnity Program relief is available to farmers who experienced financial loss because of COVID-19 (for example forced dumping of milk). Deadline to apply is September 30. Contact: Morgan Sheffield 717-787-3568 or msheffield@pa.gov.

MEETING NEWS

  • Farm Journal Field Days: A Responsible Reinvention will take place August 25-27, 2020.  Details: AgInfo@farmjournal.com and 877-692-4932.
  • PA Association of Sewage Enforcement Officers (PASEO) Western Conference will take place August 17 in Monroeville.  Details: https://www.pa-seo.org/wp1/education/paseo-conference-trade-show/conference-registration/.
  • 64th Annual Keystone International Livestock Exposition that was to have taken place September 25-October 4 has been cancelled.
  • PA Farm Bureau will hold its Annual Meeting virtually this fall.  Registration and program details were not available on their website as of August 11.  Contact: Kim Flegal at klflegal@pfb.com or 717-731-3580.
  • PA State Grange’s State Session in Erie October 24-27 will be limited to delegates only.  Details: Wayne Campbell 717-275-5045.
  • PA Association of Conservation Districts (PACD) in partnership with the PA NRCS State Office and the State Conservation Commission is convening a three-day Intro to Conservation Planning Course November 4-6, 2020 in Harrisburg.  Details: Shannon Wehinger at swehinger@pacd.org.
  • Pasa Sustainable Agriculture will convene its 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference in 2021 and will be virtual.  This format change means that the virtual conference will take place over the course of several weeks in January and February instead of a concentrated four-day event.  Details: www.pasafarming.org/conference.
  • The national Commodity Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary in San Antonio March 4-6, 2021.  Details:  www.commodityclassic.com .

HEARINGS

  • On August 3, the Senate Majority Policy Committee convened a hearing in western PA on the impact the coronavirus has had on rural health care.  Among the stresses are cancellations of elective procedures which impacted both rural health budgets and the health of rural residents.  One of the suggestions was to have better availability of Broadband Internet coverage so as to provide rural residents with remote health care where feasible.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…August 2-8 was National Farmers’ Market Week.

AG ONE Newsletter August 11, 2020

Dear Reader:

Right now, there are underutilized resources as well as opportunities for the Agricultural Community to provide input to policymakers.  One of the best is a daily report from the PA Department of Agriculture which presents developments in how the state is confronting the coronavirus as well as identifying possible resources. If interested, may I suggest that you contact  RA-agpolicyoffice@pa.gov?  I hope some of these will prove themselves to be useful.

Sincerely, Vince Phillips 

USDA OFFERS ORGANIC CERTIFICATION HELP

USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced that organic producers can apply for Federal funds to assist with up to 50% of costs of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification and Cost Share Program.  Applications for eligible certification expenses paid between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, are due on October 31, 2020. Details:

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/occsp/index?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.

DEP OFFERS ENERGY GRANTS TO FARMERS

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering grants of 50% (up to $7,000) to firms and farmers that reduce energy costs by $500 or more by adopting practices or acquiring equipment.  Last year, 233 small businesses were awarded grants for their projects. Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and investing in agricultural storm water management projects, with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.  Costs incurred between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are eligible.  Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2020-21 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2021, whichever occurs first.

All applications must be submitted through the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance. Printed, faxed, and mailed applications are not accepted.

USDA ANNOUNCES NEW SERVICES EVALUATION SURVEY

On August 7, USDA announced a new national survey of 28,000 agricultural producers.  Its purpose is to critique services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.  The survey contains 20 questions.  To take the survey, go to https://www.farmers.gov/survey

HHS PLANS MEDICARE TELEHEALTH PERMANENCE

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to expand telehealth permanently, consistent with the Executive Order on Improving Rural and Telehealth Access. To learn more about the public input CMS is seeking and additional information about the proposed rule read the August 3 press release here. Among other things, the Administration seeks to continue paying for telehealth check-ins to determine whether a person needs a physical visit to receive health care versus doing it remotely. 10.1 million Medicare recipients have availed themselves to use this consultative resource between March and July.  Another set of changes would be to add to the list of telehealth services such as home health care follow up eligible for Medicare payments. CMS is also seeking to simplify physician coding of treatments (saving doctors’ administrative time) and focusing more on chronic conditions.

COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS, PART II

The COVID-19 Small Business Grant Program (https://www.progressfund.org/grants-for-small-businesses/) began receiving applications August 10.  Grants between $5,000 and $50,000 are available for businesses with 25 or fewer employees before March 1.  One of the primary priority categories are businesses located in rural communities with high population loss, low income, and higher than average unemployment.  This grant program is managed by the Progress Fund for the western half of the state.  Contacts:  If north of I-80, call 800-895-1376.  If south of I-80, call 724-216-9160.  August 28 is the end of this grant application period.

HHS LISTS FEDERAL RURAL RESOURCES 

On August 10, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a list of Federal resources designed for rural communities.  Note the August 19 webinar about the Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit , a newly released toolkit that compiles evidence-based and promising models and resources to support organizations implementing programs that address the social determinants of health in rural communities.  Upcoming Webinar is Wed. Aug. 19, 2020. 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Register here.

CDC’s COVID-19 and Rural Communities  About 46 million Americans live in rural areas and are facing distinctive challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC updated its information on rural communities and their response to the crisis.

Resources Supporting Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness  The COVID-19 Healthcare Resilience Working Group, a partnership with HHS, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies provide support and guidance for healthcare delivery and workforce capacity and protection.  In particular, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched the Rural Community Toolbox website, a clearinghouse for funding and resources to support rural leaders in addressing substance use disorder (SUD) and the opioid crisis.  The Community Assessment Tool is especially helpful.

APHIS SEEKS PEST AND DISEASE INPUT

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking feedback on its proposed list of pests and diseases of concern that are likely to pose a high risk to U.S. agricultural and natural resources.  APHIS is publishing the list on its website.  The agency will review comments from the public about the list, including suggestions of pests or diseases that should be added or removed.   Comments may be submitted to APHISPestDiseaseList@usda.gov.