Keeping farmers abreast of COVID-19 legislation and programs | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Keeping farmers abreast of COVID-19 legislation and programs

  • FarmingUniversity of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension partnered with the Small Business Development Center Eastern Region, the Agriculture Law Education Initiative and the Maryland Agricultural and Resource Based Industry Development Corporation to provide a timely, free webinar on May 20 for farmers impacted by COVID-19.  The aim of the webinar was twofold:  to provide agricultural producers with the most current, practical information about loan and grant solutions available to help them weather the financial impacts of the pandemic and to inform farm employers about changes in employee paid sick leave and paid family leave laws.

    The program featured SBDC Eastern Region Director John Hickman, Environmental and Agricultural Faculty Legal Specialist with ALEI and UMES Extension Nicole Cook and MARBIDCO’s Executive Director Stephen McHenry. 

    New legislation and programs are coming out nearly every day.  The virtual event, therefore, was designed to address inquiries from growers about the new financial assistance programs available for farmers and agricultural businesses impacted by COVID-19.

    “Although there was quite a bit of information circulating on the internet, it was still a lot to take in, which added to some confusion over eligibility and other program details,” said Berran Rogers, director of UMES Extension’s Small Farm Program.  “So, I called John (Hickman) and we agreed that it would be helpful to do a webinar for farmers to clear up any misunderstandings.  It was important to get this information out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, especially since some programs were time sensitive.”

    The presenters provided easy-to-understand information to help farmers figure out which programs might be helpful to them and how to apply.  Cook provided information about the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.  McHenry announced MARBIDCO’s Pandemic Adjustment Equipment Grant Fund and Hickman explained the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program.

    “I really appreciated that John walked the attendees through the application process for the EIDL and PPP programs.  Having someone show you how to navigate the application forms is tremendously helpful,” Cook said.

    Cook and her colleagues at ALEI have been hard at work providing current, accurate and comprehensive information as quickly as possible to help Maryland’s farmers understand the new financial support available for farm businesses, the new protection programs for farm employees and the changes to rules for farmers markets and pick-your-own operations.  They have also addressed other legal issues such as insurance protections and protecting contract agreements during the pandemic. 

    For more information about COVID-19 resources, go to ALEI’s website at umaglaw.org and click on the “COVID-19 Resources” link.