March 20, 2020

Dear MNLGA Members:

This e-mail is distributed to key contacts; please feel free to share with others in your office.

Please see press release from MDA, below. This information is “straight from the source” – continue your business operations, as normal, with the implementation of COVID-19 precautions.  Nurseries, greenhouses, and retailers are considered essential as of this point. Landscape/lawncare is not specifically called out as essential, however the MNLGA and several individual companies have contacted MDA, the Governor's office, and the Governor's Coronavirus Advisory Council, to make the case that landscape and lawncare are essential services. The government's response is that unless an industry is specifically told to close, it should continue normal operations with COVID-19 precautions strictly in place.

The situation is rapidly changing, and I know members are concerned as they see and hear what actions states across the country are taking. Most states, as Maryland does, consider agriculture essential, and this includes nurseries and greenhouses. Landscape and sometimes retail garden centers are sometimes in less clear classifications. PA has just come out with the belief that landscape/lawncare is in the essential category, per its state codes. In some states garden centers are open and some they are not. If they are not open, they are still allowed to have employees in to work, but no customers allowed to come in.  No matter what a state says, businesses do not have to be open if they choose not to. We do see some that are voluntarily closing, citing their desire to help “flatten the curve.”  As I receive more information, I will forward it to you via Root of the Matter e-blast.

The MNLGA website, https://www.mnlga.org,  is now hosting a COVID-19 Resource Page. This link includes resources directly from Governor Hogan office, the newly passed “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” CDC, Chamber of Commerce, etc. We will keep adding to it, as relevant.  

Today the MNLGA board took the following actions today:

  1.  Suspended all dues payments for members for one year.
  2.  Created a temporary free membership category for non-member businesses. The rationale behind this is that MNLGA would like to provide clear, accurate, and timely information to Maryland’s Green Industry at large, not just current members. Hopefully being an access to more businesses, there will be less rumors and speculation about what is going to happen. If you know of businesses that are not MNLGA members, you may encourage them to join us on a complimentary basis through December 2020. Interested parties may join online via the MNLGA website, https://www.mnlga.org. There is a link in the mid-right section of the home page to join. 

The MNLGA does have a social media presence. Although our office is not been frequent posters, I make these resources available to you to use in keeping in contact with your peers and engaging with each other, seeking advice, etc. as needed. In other states, I will note, companies who have had to cut employees or reduce their hours, are trying to share these employees with other companies who are in need of employees. Social media might be a way to share this information within the industry. 
            Facebook             Twitter             LinkedIn

On Monday, March 23 rd, the NLAE and AmericanHort will co-sponsor a webinar featuring Dr. Charlie Hall, Chief Economist, Texas A & M (who was the keynote at the recent Chesapeake Green conference), and Craig Regelbrugge, Sr. VP of Advocacy & Research for AmericanHort. The webinar will focus on the economics of the pandemic and an overall forecast for the industry. A recording of the webinar will be made available to all members. Stay tuned for when that is available.

Please keep me, Vanessa, informed of what is going on with your business. If I know what is going on, I may be a better resource to you and to other members as we navigate together this uncharted territory. Feel free to email me at Vanessa @mnlga.org.

Please see MDA press release below.
Stay well, everyone. ~Vanessa

March 19
Dear Stakeholder,

As the State of Maryland continues its unprecedented response to COVID-19, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is emphasizing the need for businesses involved in the state’s food supply chain to continue production. As a key stakeholder, we are asking for your assistance in delivering this message to your customers, employees and related supply chain partners.

Reliable access to food is a human right and it is critical that our food supply chain maintain - and even be prepared to expand - operations throughout this state of emergency. Any business involved in food distribution, production, processing, sales and supply will be considered essential, including, but not limited to:
  • Agricultural equipment sales and service
  • Agricultural supply businesses
  • Animal feed supply and distribution
  • Farms
  • Farmers markets and food banks
  • Feed mills
  • Food and meat processors and manufacturers, including bakeries, etc.
  • Food safety laboratories and inspectors
  • Greenhouses and nurseries
  • Grocery delivery services
  • Pet food manufacturers and distributors
  • Retailers, including grocery stores
  • Seafood industry (crabbers, watermen, processors, etc.)
  • Transportation, distribution and suppliers
  • Veterinary services and supplies

As essential businesses, we are asking you to remain open and operational - normally and safely - until or unless directed otherwise. Develop procedures for safe operation of your facility or farm and post those procedures for the benefit of your employees and the broader public. To clarify, the governor’s current order to suspend operations applies only to bars, dine-in restaurants and other non-essential retail locations. All other businesses, especially food-related businesses, are encouraged to continue operating within the parameters and protocols (large gatherings, social distancing, etc.) recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Maryland Department of Health .

We understand that there are a number of challenges facing businesses right now. Please keep the Maryland Department of Agriculture informed of any regulatory/statutory challenge or hurdle that may impede production, processing or sales so we can address it accordingly and promptly.

On behalf of the Hogan-Rutherford administration, we appreciate your support and patience as we continue to navigate this constantly-evolving situation with as few disruptions to food production and processing. Thank you for all that you do to ensure Marylanders continue to have access to a safe, reliable food source.
We will post any updates on  Facebook Twitter and the  MDA website . If you have specific questions, please contact news.mda@maryland.gov .

Sincerely,
Joe Bartenfelder
Secretary




Stay well and let me know if there is anything the MNLGA can do for you.

Vanessa A. Finney
Executive Director, MNLGA
410-823-8684
Vanessa@MNLGA.org