As this global pandemic unfolds around us, we at AmericanHort want to provide our members and the industry as much helpful information and access to pertinent resources in as timely a manner as possible.
Please consider this page a resource center where we will update you on late-breaking news, provide helpful links to expert information and resources, and share tips and tools to help each one of our businesses navigate the days ahead.
New Guidance on Ownership Changes for PPP Borrowers – SBA issued guidance October 2 on requirements of PPP borrowers that wish to engage in mergers, acquisitions, and other changes in ownership. See Quick Reference guide.
Business Financial Assistance – USDA Announces New Round of Coronavirus Relief for Growers: CFAP-2 is now open for application. Nursery and floriculture crops are eligible. Relief payments are based solely on 2019 sales. Application period runs September 21 – December 11. Details here.
On Tuesday, August 11, USDA announced expanded eligibility for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The program, funded through the CARES Act and the Commodity Credit Corporation, provides direct assistance payments to eligible commodities for which significant losses occurred due to pandemic-related market disruption.
Most nursery and floriculture crops are now eligible for relief. The nursery crop definition does appear to be limited to container plants; we are working to clarify, but it is possible that USDA decided most field-grown stock is less perishable, allowing for sales to be delayed but not necessarily lost. USDA also extended the application deadline to September 11. Application is through your local Farm Service Agency office; details can be found at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap. Nursery-specific details are at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/nursery.
For nursery and floral crops, relief payments may cover two types of losses:
Nursery crop and cut flower inventory that may be sold after April 15, 2020, is not eligible for CFAP. Note also that there are overall payment limits, and entities deriving income from non-agricultural sources may have other eligibility limits.
This page provides information from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and other resources that are designed to support small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are a small business and need help you should apply for the disaster loan assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) upon promptly completing an assessment of your situation. Click here to access the SBA website.
There are two main SBA programs helping small businesses:
Application for forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans is now available. Click here for more information.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
The Treasury Department has been publishing frequent updates to an April 6 FAQ on the PPP (latest version available here) that specifically addresses seasonal businesses (Question 9) among other questions.
Click here for updated guidance on the eligibility of employees on H-2 visas in the Paycheck Protection Program.
Note: The Treasury Department has issued updated guidance for seasonal employers regarding the 12-week payroll window for seasonal employers. This newly released interim final rule is available here.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue.
The Nursery & Landscape Association Executives has centralized the available information on business operations in each state and province, as well as how shipments to and within the various states and provinces are affected. View the resource here.
On April 10, AmericanHort led a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in which 105 organizations urged the Secretary to ensure any forthcoming USDA assistance includes nursery and floriculture crop farmers devastated by this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. A copy of the letter is available here.
On April 3, AmericanHort CEO Ken Fisher and SVP of Advocacy Craig Regelbrugge sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to help ensure that the horticultural industry is fully embraced in the USDA-directed relief funding recently provided through the CARES Act. A copy of the letter is available here.
Amid a growing trend of mandated business closures, many are wondering what they can do to help their business weather the storm. Decisions on whether businesses can operate will be made, and those with the ability to influence those decisions will be best located, at the state or local level. Our strategy is to equip our members and state/local partners with the arguments to make their case in those discussions.
AmericanHort has collaborated with other industry leaders and organizations, to develop a statement you can use in communicating with government officials. We encourage you to borrow this statement and proactively reach out to your leaders to demonstrate the essential nature of retail garden centers in discussions about mandated business closures.
On March 18, AmericanHort briefed the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on our concerns about the importance of these retail operations. State Agriculture Secretaries and Commissioners are key allies in the effort to articulate why these businesses should be allowed to continue operations, even in a modified capacity.
We have also been in communication with the office of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and other USDA staffers requesting that they keep the green industry in mind as “essential agriculture” as any new regulations are developed.
We are not currently aware of any jurisdiction limiting the ability of growers to continue operations. As a rule, agricultural production is generally considered a critical/essential component of the national infrastructure and we expect it will continue to be treated as such in these circumstances. If you’re hearing anything different, please let us know.
On March 18, AmericanHort joined a letter articulating the landscaping industry industry’s importance.
AmericanHort has begun to collect information sent to us by members in several states that may be of assistance in securing operating protections for your business as more closures are announced. This list is not complete and if you have seen a similar information not mentioned here, please forward them to us.
On March 24, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) put out guidance for drivers who have had, or will have, their licenses expire over the next few months or those who need updated medical exam. A waiver is being granted until June 30 for drivers who had valid credentials as of March 1. The text of the guidance is here: Notice of Enforcement on Licenses. Waiver.
The CDC and OSHA have made available guidance for employers on how to prepare for and operate businesses while mitigating the risk of infection. That information is below.
The Department of Homeland Security has three times revised federal guidance on critical infrastructure sectors and essential workers. The second revision notes the explicit inclusion of “landscapers” as essential under the Public Works and Infrastructure Support sector. Note that the federal guidance is advisory only and final authority resides at the state and sometimes local level. But these changes may be helpful as AmericanHort and state partners work to support state/local decisions on who may operate consistent with health and safety guidance. Read the guidance here.
Reopening Resources – H-2A in a Post-COVID World
Read AmericanHort’s guidance on the paid leave requirements that Congress created this spring in response to COVID-19 and how they relate to school reopenings and into 2021.
As governments across the country provide advice on the best policies and procedures to follow during our national reopening, AmericanHort encourages you to consult with your state and local health officials and follow current state health department requirements. The Nursery & Landscape Association Executives has centralized the available information on business operations in each state and province here.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a three-phased roadmap to reopening based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.
For the full roadmap, click here.
EPA’s expertise on the safe and effective use of disinfectants against the virus that causes COVID-19 informed the development of this comprehensive plan. With the CDC, the EPA has revised Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools and Homes which offers a practical, three-step process for preparing spaces for reopening.
New interim guidance is available from CDC and the Department of Labor for agriculture workers and employers.
The CDC hosts a webinar for private sector organizations and partners to update the public on the latest on the COVID-19 response.
OSHA has released updated guidance on recordkeeping requirements related to COVID-19, and how to determine of occurrence is considered a recordable illness.
H-2A, H-2B, and Other Visa Program Information and Updates
US Department of Labor
The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification, which process H-2A and H-2B applications for temporary labor certification, routinely posts updates here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/foreign-labor
US Department of Agriculture
The USDA maintains a “farmer-friendly” portal providing information on the H-2A program here: https://www.farmers.gov/manage/h2a
Covid-19-specific announcements are featured here: https://www.farmers.gov/H-2A-and-COVID-19
US Department of State
The State Department publishes announcements on visa issuance policy here:
On December 27, 2020, a COVID relief package and the FY2021 appropriations bill were signed into law. Summaries of each portion of the legislation can be found in the AmericanHort COVID Relief overview and appropriations bill overview.
AmericanHort will continue to provide overviews of additional COVID relief measures in 2021 if signed into law.
With much uncertainty in our world right now, we’ve gathered these resources for the Retail Community with the hope that they will help you navigate today’s challenging business environment. Together we strive to keep ourselves, our employees, and our customers healthy and happy.
Now is not a good time to reduce your investment in communications. In fact, online, social media and other communications can be your lifeline to telling customers how they can (and should) continue to do business with you.
For additional resources and valuable assets that will help you inspire and connect with your customers, be sure to visit the Benefits of Plants section of the AmericanHort Coronavirus Resource Center.
The National Garden Bureau has re-launched the inspirational Victory Garden for 2020.
National Retail Federation has a webpage devoted to keeping retail employees safe.
Here is a list of practices AmericanHort members are doing to best manage their growing businesses.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and National Retail Federation (NRF) have teamed up to provide “A Blueprint for Shopping Safe“, a plan to help guide a uniform reemergence of retail across the country.
Shopify is one of many service providers who give you everything you need to run a successful online store.
SBIsoftware is a web based platform to support a safe, no contact sales process for retailers of live goods. Here’s an overview of their No Contact Plant Pick Up Tour.
How do you ask your customers to keep a safe distance from each other while shopping? This easy-to-print Social Distance Sign makes it simple for retailers to communicate the new directive for retail environments.
Rally Consumers for Plants was developed by our friends at Horticultural Advantage and The Garden Center Group to encourage consumers to focus on planting gardens by providing helpful tips and information.
Marketing Munchies podcast (weekly, 7-15 minutes, free) generated and produced by Dr. Bridget Behe at Michigan State University. Marketing Munchies, a podcast to inform and inspire green industry professionals, highlighting the latest in horticulture marketing and consumer research
Retailers know that the relationship isn’t over once the sale is made. Providing customers with reliable, on-demand information is easier than you might think. You don’t need to reinvent the content, but it may be as close as your nearest Cooperative Extension Service such as those listed below.
Michigan State provides gardening information for the upper Midwest.
University of Maine offers gardening information for the Northeast.
Additional resources can be found in the Benefits of Plants section of the Coronavirus Resource Center.
In times of uncertainty communication is more important than ever. We suggest companies consider two important paths of communication and deliver information in as calm a manner possible. The first path is for employees to help alleviate their concerns; and the second path is to connect with your customers and clients. Here are some suggestions on what your messages to these audiences might address.
National Garden Bureau – pre-designed social media graphics to showcase the benefits of plants and how they can make our lives better. Here are a few examples, and you can find more here.
Get Outside & Garden – creative ideas for easy kids gardening activities are here.
Here is a new series of social media graphics to promote new varieties of All-American Seed (AAS) winners.
A variety of helpful resources to promote plants; for print or digital use
#StayPlanted is an initiative launched by a coalition of interior plantscapers to help promote CDC messaging for shelter in place and social distancing guidelines. Assets and messaging guidelines can be found here.
Encourage customers to take advantage of their own backyards and remind them why it feels good to get your hands in the dirt.
Various resources and research available from Dr. Charlie Hall, AmericanHort Chief Economist.
NASDA (National Association of State Departments of Agriculture) As the Federal Government is leading efforts to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19), states are serving on the front lines.Head over to the NASDA website where you will find a quick summary of all the main resources that might be helpful to you and your staff.
We look forward to connecting with you.
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