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Coronavirus
Organizers err on side of caution due to coronavirus outbreak

Organizers err on side of caution due to coronavirus outbreak

Updated: Missouri Department of Agriculture and EPA approve two alternative methods for completing Private Pesticide Applicator Training.

Updated 9:23 a.m. CST March 31

Wondering if an event you planned to attend has been cancelled or switched to a virtual meeting? Want to know what USDA and universities are advising? Farm Progress editors from across the nation are sharing what they are learning here. Check back for updates.

Two methods to complete Private Pesticide Applicator Training in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved two alternative methods for completing Private Pesticide Applicator Training.

"We want to make sure applicators have the tools they need to handle pesticides safely this spring," said Missouri Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator Lee Miller. "Farmers, applicators, consumers and our natural resources depend on users applying pesticides carefully. Pesticide safety education prevents accidents and gives the public confidence in their food supply."

Applicators have the option to receive training by attending a Zoom video teleconference or by correspondence via regular mail.

1. Option 1: Zoom video teleconference - MU Extension field specialists converted many in-person training events to an online format using the Zoom video teleconferencing platform. Zoom is free to use. This platform uses computer audio and a webcam for video streaming. There is a call-in number for those with limited connectivity. Applicators interested in this option need to:

  • Register online at extension.missouri.edu (search for "PPAT remote training"). Choose a Private Pesticide Applicator Training offering with "Zoom Meeting" in the title. Then complete the registration, including an email address.
  • Connect and participate in the Zoom meeting when it is offered.
  • At the beginning of the Zoom meeting, users will need to provide an email address in the Zoom chatbox, using the same address with which they registered. This allows MU field specialists to match email addresses with online registrations.

After the Zoom meeting, certification will be completed as follows.

  • The MU field specialist will mail a Private Applicator Training Certification Verification Form to the applicator.
  • The applicator should fill out the form and mail (or scan and email) the form back to the extension specialist. The specialist will then sign the form and forward it to the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) for processing.

Note: MU Extension will not charge for this remote training service since there is no cost of materials.

2. Option 2: Regular mail

Alternatively, applicators have the option to certify or recertify by mail. For this option applicators need to:

  • Order a copy of the Private Pesticide Applicator Reference Manual (extension2.missouri.edu/m87) and request (by email, phone or letter) a study guide from the nearest MU Extension office.
  • Review the manual, fill out the study guide and mail the completed study guide to the extension field specialist providing the training.

After users return the materials, certification will be completed as follows:

  • The MU Extension specialist will review the fully completed study guide and return it to the applicator along with the verification form.
  • The applicator should fill out the verification form and mail (or scan and email) the form back to the extension specialist. The specialist will then sign the form and forward it to the MDA for processing.

The MDA has representatives available to process PPAT paperwork through this situation.

If you have questions, please contact the nearest MU Extension office.

Tulane University professor shares insights on COVID-19

Dr. Chad Roy, professor of microbiology and immunology, Tulane University, says the vast majority of people who contract coronavirus will recover and only a small percentage of infected persons will die. The COVID-19 virus likely came from a bat before moving to the human population. The bat could have been harboring the virus for many years. A second animal native to China, the pangolin, or Chinese anteater, also harbors the virus. Read more here.

New resource for workers to protect themselves from COVID-19

The National Institutes of Health will launch a website with important educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The initial focus is to build a virtual safety training delivery platform in partnership with private sector e-learning companies with the capability to deliver synchronized just-in-time web-based training across the country in targeted high-risk industrial sectors. 

Resources from Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

A number of new resources will support teachers and student learning online and virtually, courtesy of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. Read the content here.

Teaching resources from National Corn 

The National Corn Growers Association and Nourish the Future community network are offering curriculum on topics like biotechnology, energy and ethanol, plant anatomy and growth stages, soil science and sustainability, and the role of clean water in a healthy ecosystem. Lesson plans are designed for middle school through high school, including advanced high school options. Learn more here.

Compeer Financial donates to rural healthcare facilities

Compeer Financial, in partnership with the Fund for Rural America, is donating $25,000 to 19 rural hospitals and nursing homes across the Upper Midwest. The donation is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, a step that brings some much-needed funding to the rural healthcare community.

“Healthcare workers are on the frontlines in an unprecedented situation, often caring for their own friends and neighbors. The pressure they and their facilities are facing as they combat this pandemic is unimaginable,” said John Monson, chief mission and marketing executive and also chair of the Fund, which is Compeer’s corporate giving program. “There was no question Compeer and the Fund for Rural America should extend our support to help rural communities in this time of need.”

Many healthcare institutions are facing challenges with equipment, staffing, cleaning supplies, disinfectant and more. Donations will be sent to healthcare facilities that partner with Compeer Financial to contribute toward their most immediate needs.

Compeer Financial will provide financial support to the following facilities:

  • Augusta Area Home – Augusta, Wis.
  • Baldwin Care Center – Baldwin, Wis.
  • Bethany Lutheran Home – Brandon, S.D.
  • Colfax Health and Rehab – Colfax, Wis.
  • Community Memorial Hospital – Cloquet, Minn.
  • Dickinson St. Luke’s Home – Dickinson, N.D.
  • Glenhave – Glenwood City, Wis.
  • Hutchinson Senior Care – Hutchinson, Minn.
  • Lutheran Charity Association – Jamestown, N.D.
  • Madison Community Hospital – Madison, S.D.
  • Park View Home – Woodville, Wis.
  • Pinckneyville Community Hospital – Pinckneyville, Ill.
  • Prairie Ridge Hospital – Elbow Lake, Minn.
  • Schmitt Woodland Hills – Richland Center, Wis.
  • Cook County Hospital – Grand Marais, Minn.
  • Midwest Medical Foundation – Galena, Ill.
  • Minnewaska Lutheran Home – Starbuck, Minn.
  • Morrison Community Hospital – Morrison, Ill.

Scams targeting cattlemen are rising

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the cattle market has been dramatic already. But that’s not the only threat to ranchers’ livelihood, as thefts and scams targeting cattlemen are on the rise, too. Read more here

There's 'no shortfall' of corn-based alcohol for hand sanitizer production

The Corn Refiners Association and its members are reassuring consumers of the continued production and supply of corn-based alcohol used in the making of hand sanitizers.

“America’s corn refiners are producing trainloads of industrial alcohol on a daily basis. There has been no shortfall in meeting alcohol orders for production of hand sanitizers or other health related sanitizing products.  The distribution system is quickly catching up with the surge in demand for these products,” said John Bode, President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “To facilitate that catch-up and ensure that everyone has the supply of these products that they need, we ask that 1) consumers avoid hoarding practices and 2) local and state governments ensure that their well-intentioned policies not limit work of critical infrastructure personnel in the production and distribution of health and food products.”

Cornstarch is converted to glucose and combined with yeast to produce ethanol, a main ingredient in many hand sanitizers. Toiletries and cosmetics, which include hand sanitizer, account for almost a quarter of U.S. end-markets for industrial alcohol.

In addition, about one-quarter of hand soap’s ingredients are corn-based, including corn oil and products made from bioprocessing. For example, xanthan gum thickens and stabilizes soap.

Meat and poultry retail sales climb more than 7%

Meat and poultry producers continue to meet the global demand for meat under difficult circumstances.

“As the coronavirus began to spread overseas, our members acted to protect their employees and develop contingency plans to ensure plants could still provide food for families around the world,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “With increased demand in retail, our members acted quickly to adapt, taking steps to keep operations running at normal or increased capacity.”

Meat and poultry retail sales increased 7.3% for the week ending March 8, and deli meat sales advanced 4.8% due to a shift from foodservice production, according to IRI and 210 Analytics, LLC.

“In these uncertain times, the data shows consumers are turning to meat and poultry to provide their families with the nourishment and comfort they need,” Potts said. “Our members are committed to meeting this need.”

Recognizing the pressure on employees, especially hourly employees with children out of school and day care, companies have acted immediately to enhance benefits, including paid sick leave and improving access to health care to treat or detect the virus and waiving co-pays and deductibles. The Meat Institute is working with members and the federal government to anticipate and address other labor concerns.

“Perhaps most important is the generosity of member companies in donating meat or funds to foodbanks and other charities to support those in need in their communities,” said Potts.

The Meat Institute is working with livestock groups, food and beverage industry trade associations, manufacturing organizations, USDA, congress and the White House to ensure meat and poultry producers can operate as critical infrastructure. Learn more about the designation of essential employees here.

Iowa Rural Summit rescheduled to August

The 4th annual Iowa Rural Summit, originally set for April 29-May 1 at the Hotel Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids will instead be held August 19-21. 

The Summit is an annual gathering of rural leaders and representatives, sponsored by the IRDC, a public-private state non-profit that works to support small towns addressing issues such as housing, broadband access, business development and leadership.

As has been the case with the previous three Summits, communities will be asked to bring a three-person team since that approach has helped generate consensus and momentum for those places that were represented.

“Communities can still register their three-person team,” said IRDC Chair Sandy Ehrig.  “But anyone who has registered already and is unable to attend due to the date change can request a refund.  The Summit will, as originally planned, feature issues ranging from community visioning to encouraging ag tech to accessing new funding programs.  Our break-out session tracks are Facilities and Projects, Critical Issues and Facing the Future – and the content will be of use to anyone who lives in rural Iowa.  In addition, the issue of pandemic response and responding to small business in times of an emergency will also be discussed.”

The cost to register a three-person team is $210 and can be done at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/kirkwood-iowa-rural-development-summit-communities-registration-93323983547.

Arkansas April bull soundness clinic, field day postponed

Two events scheduled for April at the Livestock and Forestry Station in Batesville, Ark., are being postponed.

The April 3 bull soundness clinic and the April 21 “Focus on Heifers” field day are being postponed as a precaution to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Don Hubbell, resident director of the station for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, said he’s hoping to reschedule the events in the fall of 2020.

There's no evidence that pigs are involved in COVID-19

Coronavirus, a word quite familiar to the global swine industry as transmissible gastroenteritis virus, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and porcine deltacorona virus are all coronaviruses that do impact pig health. However, Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health at National Pork Board, says there is no evidence that pigs or pork are involved in the current novel coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China.

Call before sending sample to ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic

The Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic has made the decision to implement as much distance diagnostics as possible in order to greatly reduce the numbers of physical samples. 

Therefore, before sending in a sample, please contact us through email at pidc@iastate.edu.  We will do as much distance diagnostics as possible at no charge. We will continue to evaluate the situation over the next weeks and months as the growing season will increase testing needs. 

For information on Iowa State’s response to the virus, click here.

COVID-19 is not transmitted through food

Many questions about the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables have arisen in the face of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Amanda Deering, an Extension specialist in Purdue’s Department of Food Science, current research indicates that the virus is not foodborne or transmitted through food.

“From all indications, the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be transmitted just like other viruses,” Deering said. “This is very positive in that the same practices that we normally use to reduce contamination risk, such as washing your hands and washing fruit and vegetables before eating, should be applicable to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.”

The following steps are recommended to further reduce risk:

  • Frequent hand washing effectively reduces risk. After a trip to the supermarket, make sure to wash your hands, especially if tongs or other shared utensils are used.
  • Try not to manipulate produce items. While part of the buying experience is feeling, touching and manipulating the produce, this may increase the probability of a pathogen being deposited on or acquired from the produce.
  • Consumers who are immunocompromised should consider purchasing pre-packaged fruits and vegetables as an added measure of caution or choose to eat cooked fruits and vegetables at this time.
  • All produce items should be washed thoroughly before consumption.

Tips for local growers to connect with consumers

Now is the time for local growers to determine the best methods to find and connect with their customers during a time of confusion and challenge.

As the indefinite cancellation of the Indy Winter Farmers Market illustrates, the potential postponement or cancellation of farmers markets across Indiana could have a major impact on business. Although the regular farmers market season is still six to seven weeks away, there exists significant potential that these markets will be postponed or potentially canceled.

Additionally, many businesses may derive income from sales to Indiana restaurants — which recently shifted to takeout or delivery orders only under a government mandate.

Further restrictions, cancellations and closings related to COVID-19 also could have a major impact on demand.

Here's some ideas to continue to generate income during this difficult period:

  • As more people choose to stay at home rather than venture out for goods, you could capitalize through online sales that allow them to purchase your products from their residence. (If insufficient broadband limits your capacity for online orders or marketing, you can set up service through telephone or text.)
  • Make sure you have a form for payment set up, and then explore online sales by: Using Google Sheets or other online-software ordering forms, selling through Facebook, opening a webpage with your ordering form or starting a Community Supported Agriculture enterprise.

A shift to online sales may not be easy, and there are no hard or fast rules about what works and what does not. However, online sales can help you stay connected with existing customers and perhaps gain new customers, and continue the safe, timely and profitable delivery of your farm products.

Learn more here.

Tennessee Extension releases financial publications

The coronavirus pandemic is causing rapid changes to our daily lives and the economy. Work hours are being reduced and jobs are being cut across many industries. University of Tennessee Extension has released three new publications to help those facing a downturn to their personal finances. 

  • Triaging Your Debt During a Money Crunch (Publication D 78) gives guidance to individuals who need to determine their spending priorities. The publication divides expenses into three levels: first priority, second priority and optional. 
  • Identifying Your Resources (Publication D 79) can help individuals brainstorm different areas where they could receive help or support. This publication also includes a brainstorming activity for families to consider how they could possibly produce income.
  • Steps to Stabilize Your Financial Situation (Publication D 80) provides guidance on how to prioritize spending and set limits, identify and evaluate resources, and contact creditors when facing a difficult financial situation. This publication also includes community resource contact information and suggestions to follow when contacting lending institutions or banks. 

Each of these publications are available free to read or download from the UT Extension website:utextension.tennessee.edu.

OSU talks about impact of COVID-19 on food industry

Food manufacturers are continuing to follow current Good Manufacturing Practices to help ensure the consistent quality and safety of food products by focusing attention on five key elements: people, premises, processes, products and procedures. They also are following risk-based food safety plans, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, where food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.

Read more from Oklahoma State University.

Does your household cleaner kill coronavirus? Check EPA's list

The EPA is releasing an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The list contains nearly 200 additional products, including 40 new products that went through the agency's expedited review process.

While disinfectant products on this list have not been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, they are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have been tested and proven effective on either a harder-to-kill virus or against another human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

The product list has also been updated to include the product’s active ingredient and the amount of time the surface should remain wet to be effective against the given pathogen.

To make the list more consumer friendly, information in the table is now sortable, searchable and printable, and can be easily viewed on a mobile device. To view the list of EPA-registered disinfectant products, visit www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

COVID-19 clinical trial begins

A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The open-label trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks. The first participant received the investigational vaccine March 16.

COVID-19 virus stays on surfaces for several hours

The virus that causes COVID-19 is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

The study information was widely shared during the past two weeks after the researchers placed the contents on a preprint server to quickly share their data with colleagues.

Read more here.

Farm Credit encourages flexibility

The Farm Credit Administration is encouraging Farm Credit System institutions to work with system borrowers whose operations have been affected by COVID-19 and the measures taken to prevent its spread.

"FCA regulations and the solid financial position of system institutions give the institutions considerable flexibility to provide relief to borrowers affected by COVID-19," says Glen R. Smith, FCA board chairman and CEO. "We encourage institutions to use this flexibility to work with borrowers to lessen any stress and financial burden related to the disease and efforts to contain it."

System institutions can help alleviate stress for borrowers affected by COVID-19 in several ways:

  • Extending the terms of loan repayments
  • Restructuring borrowers' debt obligations
  • Easing some loan documentation or credit-extension terms for new loans to certain borrowers

In addition to affecting system borrowers, the virus may also create challenges for system employees and institutions. These challenges may impair the institutions' ability to comply in a timely way with regulatory or reporting requirements. FCA may be able to grant temporary relief in some circumstances that would alleviate these challenges without weakening safety and soundness.

FCA encourages any system institution that needs temporary relief from these requirements to contact David Grahn, director of the agency's Office of Regulatory Policy, at 703-883-4145.

How is COVID-19 impacting your grocery store?

Jayson Lusk, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, wrote about the effects the coronavirus could have at the grocery stores, farms, food markets and economy in his latest blog post.

“It has been fascinating to watch online, and in my own local grocery stores, which items consumers are choosing to stock-up on.  The run on toilet paper, for example, seems on the surface of it, downright irrational.  After all, COVID-19 does not cause digestive issues.  As irrational as the initial movement to toilet paper may seem, it isn’t crazy for subsequent consumers to then stock up too.  After all, it doesn’t take much for a reasonable person to see that if all other consumers are buying up all the toilet paper, that they’d better off getting theirs before none is left.  There is a long and interesting economics literature on information cascades and herding behavior, which shows that even if you disagree with what other people are doing, it is sometimes sensible to go along with the crowd” Lusk says.

Read more here.

American Farm Bureau details its coronavirus concerns

American Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19.

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, AFBF President Zippy Duvall pledged that “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America.”

The letter, which will be updated as new issues materialize, outlines concerns from Farm Bureau members across the country as national and local leaders take action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. The concerns relate to labor, supply chain and market concerns.

PFI office closed until further notice

Starting on March 18, the Ames office of Practical Farmers of Iowa will close and staff will work remotely until further notice.

Staff members can be reached via phone and email. The office number is 515-232-5661.

In-person meetings and events are cancelled. They will be moved online or postponed. Watch the website for updates.

While this pandemic will impact everyone in some way – know that you are not alone. As we all practice social distancing, we don’t have to become socially isolated. Take advantage of PFI’s many resources to stay in touch and continue learning from one another as you get ready for the spring planting season.

ISU moves to virtual instruction for spring semester

Iowa State University is moving to virtual instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. The ability of students to live in residence halls will also be restricted beginning March 22. Check this link for more information.

Continuing to farm through challenges of COVID-19

The introduction of COVID-19 into the personnel of a farm or input supply firm will present difficulties, particularly given no other trained personnel are likely to be available, according to Illinois Extension.  Many farmers are in the at-risk group being older and perhaps having other factors increasing risk.  Working through a COVID-19 infection during planting likely is not wise, particularly given the reported death rates from COVID-19 in other countries.  If possible, a COVID-19 free labor force needs to be maintained. As a result, farmers may wish to emphasize measures suggested by health officials: washing hands, limiting travel and social distancing.

Perhaps most critical will be those individuals providing input supply to other farmers. Seeds, fertilizer, and herbicides soon will be needed to be delivered to many farmers. The needs to limit COVID-19 spread among workers across these supply chains need to be considered and taken seriously.

Read more here.

COVID-19 farmer guidance in Delaware

From the Delaware Department of Agriculture, some important information on state services:

Farmers will be active over the next few months as planting season is underway.  Secretary Scuse has asked for flexibility from the public as guidance surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change. Members of the public are encouraged to call ahead before coming to the department. Non-essential meetings are being canceled or moved to online/teleconference to enable social distancing.

Read more here.

Pennsylvania Ag Department offers guidance

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has developed guidance and recommendations for farmers to limit exposure and risk related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

It is now critical to consider ways to limit person-to-person contact and congregate in settings of no more than 10 people while maintaining social distance.

Suggestions include creating separate drop-off areas, sanitizing contact surfaces and having business continuity plans ready.

Read more at Tips for Pa. farmers to limit COVID-19 exposure and risk

USA Rice addresses domestic rice supply amidst COVID-19

As the effects of COVID-19 are being felt in the U.S. and around the world, consumers are rushing to stockpile groceries and household supplies in fear of being quarantined or isolated in their homes for weeks. This has led to a run on household cleaning products, paper products, and many canned and dried goods, including rice.

"U.S. consumers need not be concerned about a shortage of U.S.-grown rice. There is no shortage," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward.

Read more at: USA Rice: No shortage of rice.

Research and outreach activities continue

Mike Salassi, associate vice president of AgCenter, Alexandria, Louisiana, said research and outreach activities that support farmers and other clientele will continue during the coronavirus shutdown.   

“Our research stations remain open with essential personnel to carry out necessary operations,” Salassi said. “Parish offices are open but have restricted visitors for now, and agents are available by phone or email and will continue to work with the public throughout this time.”  

Keep kids safe while home alone

With schools shuttered for the next few weeks in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, many children may find themselves at home alone.

Take time to make a plan that kids can follow when they’re home without adult supervision.

See: Louisiana 4-H offers tips to keep kids safe while home alone.

USDA to deliver meals to homebound students

USDA is collaborating with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 1 million meals to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. Email FeedingKids@usda.gov for more information or to help.

Silos & Smokestacks closes immediately

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area Headquarters & Offices will close to the public effective immediately. SSNHA Staff will keep regular office hours and will be available via email and telephone, (319) 234-4567. Please check our website at www.silosandsmokestacks.org and our social media pages for online learning opportunities, virtual tours and programs.

In addition, many of our sites will be closing temporarily and events cancelled. Be sure to check each individual locations’ website or social media for schedule updates.

Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction postpones ceremony

Due to concerns over the coronavirus and heeding directions from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, the 2020 Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction ceremonies scheduled for March 26 in Baton Rouge have been postponed until further notice.

This year’s inductees ‒ James Barnett, John Denison, Jay Hardwick and Calvin Viator ‒ will be celebrated at a later date in recognition of their significant contributions to the state’s agricultural community.

Previously purchased tickets will be honored at the rescheduled date.

Cancellations, postponements of Arkansas events

Concerns over the movement of the COVID-19 virus has prompted postponement or cancelation of many events related to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

See a list of affected events at: COVID-19 prompts Arkansas event postponements, cancellations.

Find COVID-19 information from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service here.

Mississippi Extension resources

A team of Mississippi Extension health and emergency management specialists is fielding general questions about COVID-19 at ics@ext.msstate.edu.

Educational resources on the coronavirus are available at http://extension.msstate.edu/coronavirus.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is operating a hotline for answers to questions about COVID-19 by phone. The Mississippi Coronavirus Hotline is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at 877-978-6453.

Dairy farmer resources available

The Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence has launched a library of farm resources to help dairy farm families and small business owners navigate the COVID-19 crisis. The resources include crisis management tools, stress and wellness resources, and financial planning information. Learn more here.

ISU Extension events cancelled through May 9

Most Iowa State University Extension and Outreach events throughout the state have been cancelled through May 9. When possible, some activities may be conducted virtually using video or teleconferencing. For information on specific events, please contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

Pesticide applicator testing sessions cancelled

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is canceling its in-person pesticide applicator testing sessions through the end of the month.

“We’re working with public health officials and other state and federal agencies to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. “The health of the public and our employees is our top priority so we are temporarily suspending in-person testing out of an abundance of caution.”

The affected in-person meetings were scheduled to take place between March 16 and 31 in Nevada, Everly, Mason City, Tama, Emmetsburg, Newton, Oskaloosa, Garner, Orange City, Waterloo, Altoona, Muscatine and Rock Rapids.

Additional pesticide applicator certification testing sessions may be offered at partner locations later in the year. Visit iowaagriculture.gov/pesticide-bureau for a list of alternate pesticide applicator certification testing dates and locations.

Missouri State FFA Convention postponed

The Missouri State FFA Convention scheduled for April 23 and 24 is being postponed. Ag Ed staff members are working on a contingency plan for the State Convention program, State Leadership Development and State Career Development events. Ag Ed leaders recommend local Ag Ed teachers reconsider holding all area and district FFA events involving significant numbers of students.

World Brangus Congress postponed

The Brangus World Congress - Argentina 2020 is postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The executive committee is committed to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and collaborating with the containment of the virus. "We hope that the exhibitors, breeders and all the Brangus team that has been working for a long time will understand the complex situation," said Martin Goldstein, president of the organizing committee of the Brangus World Congress.

U.S. Grains Council postpones international travel

The U.S. Grains Council will postpone all international travel and carefully review all within country travel until the end of March. Its headquarters in Washington, D.C., remains open, and all staff globally can be contacted as normal via phone, email and chat. These operational plans will be reviewed as needed with guidance from U.S. government agencies.

Southwest Ginners School canceled

The Southwest Ginners School, originally scheduled for March 30-April 1 at the South Plains Ginning Laboratory in Lubbock, Texas, has been canceled.  The Western and Stoneville ginners schools will be held as scheduled. The Western school will be at the Southwest Ginning Research Laboratory in Mesilla Park, NM, on May 5-7, and the Stoneville School will be at the USDA Ginning Laboratory in Stoneville, MS, on June 2-4. Students enrolled at the Southwest School may want to consider these two schools as options. Registration and school details are at http://www.cotton.org/ncga/ginschool/index.cfm.

Penn State Extension cancels events through April 5

Penn State Extension has announced that all public, in-person events it sponsors — workshops, conferences, meetings and so forth — are cancelled through April 5. Registered attendees for events through April 5 will receive a cancellation notice and, if a registration fee was required, a refund. All 4-H activities, events and club meetings are suspended until further notice.

Centers for Disease Control: COVID-19 not a foodborne illness

The CDC says “currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” 

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods.

For background and the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website

Other cancellations

  • USDA Rural Development is moving to remote working arrangements effective March 20.
  • The Denim Ball scheduled for April 3 in Oklahoma City, Okla., has been postponed.
  • Compeer Financial will move to virtual service via phone and online, temporarily closing all offices effective March 18. All in-person client events scheduled through April 15 will be cancelled.
  • The Good Farm Neighbor Awards in Iowa have been postponed. Award winners are Bob Puetz, Charlie and Greg Hansen and Dale and Karen Green.
  • The South Dakota Pork Council Taste of Elegance on April 5 has been cancelled.
  • Wisconsin Public Service is canceling its 60th WPS Farm Show, which was to take place in Oshkosh March 31-April 2.
  • UMaine Extension is limiting their gatherings to no more than 20 attendees. This attendee limit is in place until April 6. 
  • The Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates will discontinue public tours and will close the facility to the public until at least April 15. 
  • The Oregon FFA State Convention has been cancelled.  The convention will not be rescheduled, but components of the convention will be.  
  • The Pennsylvania FFA State Legislative Leadership Conference has been cancelled.
  • The Wyoming FFA State Convention has been cancelled.
  • The Minnesota State FFA Convention has been postponed. June dates are being explored.
  • Effective March 16, all in-person University of Minnesota Extension meetings, events and classes are cancelled. This cancellation is in place through March 31, 2020, and includes all 4-H programs.
  • The National Extension Risk Management Education conference in Denver on March 31-April 2 has been cancelled.
  • Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., has cancelled their 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled for April 3. PCG has no plans to reschedule this year's meeting.
  • The Grassfed Exchange 2020, scheduled for May 27-29, is postponed.
  • The April 2-3 Texas Cotton Ginners Association annual meeting and trade show in Lubbock, Texas, are cancelled.
  • Several events related to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture events have been postponed or cancelled. If you are unsure of the status of an upcoming event, please check with the event organizer or your local county Cooperative Extension Service office.
  • Effective immediately, all event activities in Tennessee's Agricenter’s Expo Center, ShowPlace Arena, and Farmer’s Market that are larger than 50 people will be postponed or cancelled through March 31, 2020. 
  • The 2020 Ogallala Aquifer Summit, set for March 31-April 1 in Amarillo, Texas, will be rescheduled.
  • All Rutgers Cooperative Extension events, programs, and noncredit classes involving groups larger than 15 participants are cancelled now through at least April 3.  
  • The city of Houston shut down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on March 11 due to coronavirus concerns after a man with no recent travel history tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Houston Chronicle. As of March 11, there were 14 cases in the Houston area.
  • Bayer AG announced the closure of four U.S. locations due to COVID-19. In New Jersey, the closures are affecting Bayer's campuses in Whippany, which is the company's U.S. headquarters, and Morristown. The Creve Coeur, Missouri, campus will remain closed until further notice.
TAGS: Coronavirus
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