As cases of the coronavirus disease (also known as COVID-19) continue to appear in the United States, many dairy farm families and small business owners are working to navigate the crisis and manage their operations the best they can.
The Center for Dairy Excellence is committed to connecting Pennsylvania dairy farm families with tools and resources to strengthen their dairy operations. Below you’ll find a library of resources to help you manage crisis planning, stress and wellness, and financial planning during this time.
Note: Due to an order from the State Health Secretary, all farms and farm-related businesses must provide employees with masks. The Center has several volunteers who can make cloth masks for your farm. Email Emily Barge or call 717-346-0849 if you are in need of masks for your farm employees.
Important Update: On May 19, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief and direct support to farmers who have experienced losses related to COVID-19. Beginning Tuesday, May 26, the USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will begin accepting direct payment applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. Read the full update.
COVID-19 Farm Resources
Overview and General Dairy Requirements
- Coronavirus Overview – Understand the COVID-19 and its transmissibility, host range, incubation period, environmental stability, and other required information for infectious disease outbreak response.
- What You Need to Know About COVID-19 in Your Dairy – Learn how COVID-19 is spread and how you can protect yourself and the employees at your dairy. Download a guide from the PA Dept. of Agriculture.
- COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Dairy Workers – It’s likely your farm employees have questions about the virus. Download this dairy fact sheet to help your employees understand the virus and what they can do to help prevent it on the farm. Alltech also offers this poster in Spanish to help protect Spanish-speaking employees.
- Prevention and Control for Farms – As an employer, your farm workforce is not immune to coronavirus. Follow this guide to begin taking steps to protect yourself and your employees.
- Managing Farms and On-Farm Deliveries – The PA Department of Agriculture has developed the following guidance for farms to limit exposure and risk related to COVID-19. Read the recommendations for practicing biosecurity for the safety of animals and the public.
- COVID-19 and Your Dairy – Cornell Cooperative Extension shares the steps that dairy managers should consider to protect their workforce, their business and their markets. View slides from their webinar to learn more about the steps employers should take to protect employees, animal health considerations, and more.
- Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 – The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Read these tips for wearing face coverings and how to safely clean them.
- COVID-19 Testing, Regional Priority for Agriculture – As a direct result of agriculture and the entire food supply chain being life sustaining, combined with hot spots of COVID-19 in processing facilities, any symptomatic adult working in agriculture – including but not limited to those working in processing and manufacturing facilities, food warehouses, groceries stores, and on-farm labor (seasonal farm labor and H2A workers included) – is approved to receive priority testing if they live and/or work in Montgomery County or northeast Pennsylvania. Read more.
- Preparing the Farm for the Novel Coronavirus – As farms and agricultural businesses work to prepare for COVID-19, this resource will help you determine where to start.
Dairy Industry Conference Call Recordings
- Dairy Industry Conference Call: Part One – During the Center’s first conference call, dairy professionals learned how COVID-19 is affecting the dairy industry and support available at the state and federal level. Panelists answered questions about new Pennsylvania labor laws and guidelines for how farms can be prepared. Listen to the recording.
- Dairy Industry Conference Call: Part Two – During the Center’s second conference call, dairy professionals received a milk market response to COVID-19 and an update on state and federal response. Panelists answered questions about small business funding opportunities, including the CARES Act, and the value of a contingency plan. Listen to the recording.
- Dairy Industry Conference Call: Part Three – During the Center’s third conference call, panelists shared helpful takeaways for addressing the financial and herd management implications of reducing milk production on the farm. Listen to the recording.
- Dairy Industry Conference Call: Part Four – During the Center’s fourth conference call, panelists shared information about PMMB’s Emergency Class I mover price decision, SBA disaster relief loans, stress and mental health concerns, and more. Listen to the recording.
- Dairy Industry Conference Call: Part Five – During the Center’s fifth conference call, our panelists provided market updates and shared valuable information about the CFAP application process and answered common questions from producers. Listen to the recording.
Guidance on Dumping Milk
- Options and Resources for Dumping Milk – Under CFAP (USDA’s Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program), dumped milk is not expected to be compensated for its full value, but the milk that is produced and dumped will still be eligible for the payment rate that milk receives under the direct payment program. The Center compiled a list of options and resources available to farmers who have to dump milk. View the resources.
- Guidelines for Emergency Land Application of Milk Under COVID-19 Temporary Suspension – The following guidelines and notices should be followed by dairy operations needing to address the need to manage excess milk as a result of market and supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 emergency. View the guidelines and download a fact sheet for emergency milk disposal.
- On-Farm Disposal of Bulk Milk Waste – A practical utilization for unshipped milk is land application. While direct land application of milk would be possible, it is recommended that the milk be mixed with manure before land application. Read the following recommendations for on-farm disposal of bulk milk waste.
Strategies for Reducing Milk Production
- Diet and Management Considerations for Emergencies: Reducing Milk Flow Without Harming Cows and Threatening Future Production – Given the unprecedented market conditions and the inability to get milk processed effectively in the short-term, some processors are asking dairies to reduce milk supply at a time when it is not possible to cull heavily due to decreased meat processing facility capacity for cattle. The Cornell Pro-Dairy Team shared these diet and management considerations to help dairy producers and their advisors meet this unusual request, while maintaining cow health and working to ensure cows have the capacity to resume normal milk production relatively quickly once this situation stabilizes. Read their recommendations.
- Points to Consider to Reduce Milk Production – In situations where a farm decides to produce less milk, Penn State Extension shared a few points to consider. Remember, every case is different and each farm should be looked at independently. Read their considerations.
- Feeding Excess Milk to the Dairy Herd – In situations where you have excess milk or will be paid a very low amount for milk, one thing to consider is feeding some of it to your calves. View Penn State Extension’s strategies for how to feed excess milk to the dairy herd.
Stimulus Information and Financial Management
- Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Introductory Webinar – USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Agricultural Marketing Service provides basic information on how producers can prepare for the upcoming signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This includes information on how to apply once signup opens and how to initiate contact with FSA. Watch a recording of the webinar.
- EIDL Program: Why You Should Consult With Your Lender or Financial Advisor First – SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program is now open to production agriculture. While the EIDL loans seem attractive, they might not be a fit for every farm. Before signing for an EIDL loan, first talk with your lender or financial advisor. Read these suggestions from AgChoice Farm Credit.
- Paycheck Protection Program Overview – The Paycheck Protection Program is a federal stimulus benefit available for small businesses and is open to dairy industry farms and business owners. It is an SBA loan that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the program and find assistance for small businesses.
- Small Business 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. Read this fact sheet to learn more.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources – Our nation’s small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the COVID-19 outbreak. View resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- How COVID-19 May Affect Ag Lending – Two bankers weigh in on what impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on farm lenders and the farmers who borrow from them. Read the article.
- Farm Credit Services of America Financial Webinars – Farm Credit Services of America is supplementing their monthly financial series with a weekly webinar aimed at helping producers manage the financial fallout of COVID-19. Join the webinars.
- Financial Planning Resources– COVID-19 may be leading to uncertainty about milk supply and profitability. View our library of financial planning resources to help you manage risk and find solutions.
Labor Laws and Employee Management
- Pennsylvania Labor Laws and COVID-19 – See how Pennsylvania labor laws, including new federal sick leave policies, workers’ compensation modifications, and unemployment compensation, may affect you or your employees. See the updates to the labor laws.
- Employee Rights Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) – Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), any employer with fewer than 500 employees is required to provide the following benefits. Dairy farms with employees on the payroll would fall under these guidelines and should share this information with their employees. Review employee rights and download this poster to send to your farm employees so they understand their rights.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention and Management: Dairy Farmer Handbook – By following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) precautions, the dairy industry can minimize the risk to dairy farmers, family, employees, and essential professional and service providers to be on the farm. View this dairy farmer handbook from the National Milk Producers Federation.
- Preventing Workplace Exposure – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend strategies for preventing workplace exposure to COVID-19. View the recommendations.
- Steps to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 if You Are Sick – If you or your farm employee is sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, follow these steps from the CDC to help protect other people on your farm and in your community.
Broad Impacts on the PA Dairy Industry
- Impacts of COVID-19 on the PA Dairy Industry – Jayne Sebright, executive director of the Center for Dairy Excellence, discusses current challenges in the dairy industry related to the COVID-19 crisis and resources available for dairy farmers. Listen to the podcast.
- How Dairy Farmers Are Navigating the Pandemic – The National Milk Producers Federation’s Vice President for Sustainability and Scientific Affairs, Dr. Jamie Jonker, discusses why U.S. milk supplies are safe and details the precautions dairy farmers are taking to protect their workers and facilities. Listen to the podcast.
- Ag Events Canceled or Modified Because of Coronavirus – View a list of agriculture events that have been cancelled or modified in the midst of COVID-19.
Stress and Wellness
- 7 Steps to Reduce Stress – Managing crises can lead to stress and anxiety for individuals from any industry. Consider these suggestions on how to cope with financial and farm stress.
- 10 Health & Wellness Strategies to Try During COVID-19 – As the dairy industry and agriculture community faces the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, it’s natural to feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, lonely, or scared. Follow these expert-backed strategies to cope with mental health struggles during this time. Read the article.
- Stress and Wellness Resources – When faced with a stressful situation, internalizing that stress can lead to both physical and mental health issues. View our library of stress and wellness resources to help you and your employees find the support to keep moving forward.
Communication and Crisis Management
- 5 Crisis Planning Tips to Combat COVID-19 – The coronavirus and public health measures being implemented across the country reinforce the importance of having a crisis plan for your dairy. Follow these crisis planning tips to limit the impact of COVID-19 on your farm.
- 9 Steps for Managing a Crisis – Crisis events don’t happen to every dairy producer, but they could happen to any producer at any given time. Appropriate communication is vital during a crisis, especially for famers. View this resource to learn more about establishing a crisis plan.
- Social Media and Crisis Communications Tips – For farmers who are active on social media, it’s crucial we share credible information from reputable sources. There is also a larger audience of families looking for interesting, educational material to pass the time. Read these tips for communicating on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page will be updated as more resources related to the COVID-19 are made available.