COVID-19 Viticulture Update 4/17/2020

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COVID-19 Viticulture Update 4/17/2020

News Today:

Frost:

Frost has caused a lot of damage in the Piedmont and Mountains over the past two nights. In some cases it might take one or two days before shoot damage is fully visible. If severe shoot damage is observed, removing shoots and relying on basal and dormant buds might be advisable to avoid uneven fruit growth and ripening.

  • Please read more here in a document prepared by David Lockwood from the University of Tennessee.
  • Please also see here additional information on how to manage frost damage

H-2A:

  • Important FAQs to the PPP (4/15). See here. 
  • Department of Homeland Security final rule changing H2A requirements. You can view the USDA release here.

On the Farm:

Donations:

  • The NC food bank is prepared to accept large and small donations from farms. Read more here. 

Important Note on PPP

We have taken note of some confusion over the PPP and how it affects farmers specifically, so please take note of the following points:

  • There is no penalty for applying for a PPP Loan and later being determined ineligible. However, there could be a penalty for providing the wrong information on your application, but there are no penalties if you are simply deemed ineligible.
  • H-2A workers’ pay cannot be covered using the PPP Loan. Please see this webpage with important questions regarding farms, H-2A workers, and the PPP.

H-2A

Department of Homeland Security final rule changing H2A requirements. From a USDA news release:

“Under this temporary final rule, an H-2A petitioner with a valid temporary labor certification who is concerned that workers will be unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions can start employing certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A status in the United States immediately after United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the H-2A petition, but no earlier than the start date of employment listed on the petition. To take advantage of this time-limited change in regulatory requirements, the H-2A worker seeking to change employers must already be in the United States and in valid H-2A status.

Additionally, USCIS is temporarily amending its regulations to protect the country’s food supply chain by allowing H-2A workers to stay beyond the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States. These temporary changes will encourage and facilitate the continued lawful employment of foreign temporary and seasonal agricultural workers during the COVID-19 national emergency. Agricultural employers should utilize this streamlined process if they are concerned with their ability to bring in the temporary workers who were previously authorized to work for the employer in H-2A classification. At no point is it acceptable for employers to hire illegal aliens.”

You can view the USDA release here.

Daily COVID-19 Update as of 4/17/2020:

  • North Carolina (11 a.m. EST): 5,859 positive/ 152 deaths
  • USA: (8:38 p.m. EST): 700,282 positive/ 36,822 deaths
  • World (8:38 p.m. EST): 2,240,768 positive/ 153,871 deaths

Newsletter

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Other Helpful Resources:

COVID-19: Farming Resources, NC State Extension

Food Safety, NC State Extension

COVID-19 Resources and Information, NC State Extension

NCDA&CS COVID-19 Resources and important Documents

CEFS COVID-19 Resources

NC Muscadine Grower Association COVID-19 Resource Page

NC Wine Database for NC Wineries. Please enter your information

NY Wine Grape Growers Association COVID-19 Resources

This post was created by Emma Volk and Mark Hoffmann