June 8, 2020
Dear MNLGA Members:
If you are a new member, you may wish to check our COVID-19 Resources Page for past e-blasts. For quite a long period, updates were issued daily, including information on recovery and relief programs, CDC guidelines, employee and employee relations information, retail promos, etc.
New Information Today
I am aware of several member businesses having an employee test positive for COVID-19. If you are willing to talk confidentially to other members about your experience and actions taken at your business upon either suspicion or confirmation of a positive test, please let me know. I know your experiences may be valuable and helpful to other members who may have to address the same actions and concerns. I will share this information upon request only. There are many resources on the MNLGA
that address some of the considerations/actions to take upon suspicion or confirmation of a positive employee. I’ve included this information/links further down in this e-blast, under “Labor Resources.”
PPP Loan Forgiveness/PPP Flexibility Act
– Within the last week, there has been announced significant changes to PPP and its loan forgiveness provisions. If you have one of these loans or are considering applying for one, I urge you to review the changes. For the most part, they are favorable in extending the time for which the loan applies, if you already have the loan, as well as more leniency on the safe harbor/rehiring timeline. New loans must be applied for by June 30
. Below are links to several sources, detailing the PPP forgiveness changes. There are a few “catches,” though, including new provision that salaries have to constitute of the loan (down from 75%), but if you don’t use at least 60% for salaries (and related expenses) then no portion of the loan is forgivable. President Trump needs to sign the bill into law, but that is expected to happen.
(scroll down a little to skip PPP history, if you like)
And of course, please contact your bank and the institution most likely has its summary of changes.
Older Information – but still important
- Create an environment that allows for physical distancing between individuals (6 feet is recommended) to the extent possible.
- Ensure our place of business is routinely cleaned and encourage our employees to frequently wash their hands.
- Provide flexibility to our employees, provide training and education and clearly communicate policies and procedures.
- Reduce and disinfect as many ‘high touch surfaces’ as possible.
- Additionally, follow guidance provided by the CDC, the Maryland Department of Health and our own industry.
CDC Reopening Guidance
– see this link for guidelines on sanitation and COVID-19 precautions to consider and implement in your workplace.
Act Now to Support Horticulture’s Inclusion in USDA Coronavirus Relief
Tristan Daedalus & Craig Regelbrugge
We mentioned in the last edition that USDA’s new Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) didn’t yet extend relief funds to several agricultural sectors, horticulture included. To gather the information necessary to decide whether and how to tailor the program to additional sectors and offer this badly-needed assistance, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency has requested public comments on:
- The Coronavirus’ impact on plant prices during the period of January 15 through April 15, 2020; and
- The value of plant inventory which was sold or ready for sale but not shipped by April 15, 2020 (due to cancelled orders and market losses) and will not be sold.
AmericanHort has created a simple one-page comment form that will submit your answers directly to the public record. We include guidance on how you should structure comments. You can access the form
. Comments are due by or before June 22!
While many action alerts can be pre-populated, here you must provide your own comments, specific to your own nursery/greenhouse. As a reminder, all comments submitted to the Federal Government in the rulemaking process are included in the public record and are accessible to all. For this reason, AmericanHort advises members not to provide confidential business information in any regulatory submissions.
In addition to encouraging industry comments, AmericanHort has a dialogue established with USDA officials to help them understand how our industry was affected, and how access to relief for lost nursery and floriculture crops might best be structured.
- CISA Guidance - Definition of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers
- Employers and Coronavirus Lawsuits (From the Financial Times, dated April 23rd . Food for thought regarding how government will respond to employers’ need for protection against employee lawsuits.)
- COVID-19 Scenarios and Benefits Available Chart (Prepared by an insurance agent; The chart shows FMLA rules as well as the new FFCRA leave policies enacted effective 4-1-2020. Remember that the FMLA rules (in the first column) only apply if you have 50 or more employees, and the new rules (in the other two columns) apply to all employers with less than 500 employees, unless you qualify for an exemption)
- What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws (This is a FAQ on human resources issues related to COVID-19 such as discrimination, violation of HIPPA, reducing liability...and more)
- COVID-19 and Paid Sick Leave for Ag Employees (Published by UMD Ag Law Initiative, this includes information on payroll tax credits available; scroll down until you see the article)
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave and FMLA Request Form (This is a ready-made form for use)
- COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund (established to minimize layoffs by providing funds to assist businesses - funding is limited, submit your application as soon as possible if you feel that you may qualify. A total of $7 million in funds will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to proactively support businesses and workers)
- Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Program (Information on this program in Maryland that provides an alternative to layoffs)
- Maryland Department of Labor (Information directly on the homepage regarding labor, unemployment, licensing...etc.)
- MD Dept. of Labor: FAQ's about COVID-19 and Unemployment Insurance
Remember to utilize the COVID-19 resources page on the
. It includes resources to help connect with consumers, explanations and access to state and federal recovery, employment, and relief efforts, and more.
Please keep me in the loop and let me know how the MNLGA can help you.
Vanessa A. Finney
Executive Director, MNLGA