April 3, 2020
The MWFPA COVID-19 Update is underwritten in part by Bug Blocker Doors & Screens
The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation with ramifications for the economy, interstate commerce and the Midwest's food manufacturing industry.

MWFPA continues to closely monitor evolving information about the coronavirus/COVID-19 and are providing the following information as a supplement to our regular News Bulletin for your use.
The MWFPA COVID-19 Update is underwritten in part by Alliant Energy
Q & A Guidance from U.S. Department of Labor On Paid Sick Leave

Here is some guidance from the United States Department of Labor with regard to the new federal laws, specifically dealing with documentation:
 
What records do I need to keep when my employee takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?
 
Private sector employers that provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave required by the FFCRA are eligible for reimbursement of the costs of that leave through refundable tax credits. If you intend to claim a tax credit under the FFCRA for your payment of the sick leave or expanded family and medical leave wages, you should retain appropriate documentation in your records. You should consult Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applicable forms, instructions, and information for the procedures that must be followed to claim a tax credit, including any needed substantiation to be retained to support the credit. You are not required to provide leave if materials sufficient to support the applicable tax credit have not been provided.
 
If one of your employees takes expanded family and medical leave to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19, you may also require your employee to provide you with any additional documentation in support of such leave, to the extent permitted under the certification rules for conventional FMLA leave requests. For example, this could include a notice that has been posted on a government, school, or day care website, or published in a newspaper, or an email from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or child care provider. 

What documents do I need to give my employer to get paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?
 
You must provide to your employer documentation in support of your paid sick leave as specified in applicable IRS forms, instructions, and information. 
 
Your employer may also require you to provide additional in support of your expanded family and medical leave taken to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19-related reasons. For example, this may include a notice of closure or unavailability from your child’s school, place of care, or child care provider, including a notice that may have been posted on a government, school, or day care website, published in a newspaper, or emailed to you from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or child care provider. Your employer must retain this notice or documentation in support of expanded family and medical leave, including while you may be taking unpaid leave that runs concurrently with paid sick leave if taken for the same reason.

Please also note that all existing certification requirements under the FMLA remain in effect if you are taking leave for one of the existing qualifying reasons under the FMLA. For example, if you are taking leave beyond the two weeks of emergency paid sick leave because your medical condition for COVID-19-related reasons rises to the level of a serious health condition, you must continue to  provide medical certifications  under the FMLA if required by your employer
 
AFFI, Trade Associations Release Social Distancing Guidance For Food Manufacturing Facilities

Today, the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) alongside six food industry trade associations released a document to address emergency prevention measures for physical (social) distancing in food manufacturing facilities. This document identifies areas in production where employees can minimize physical contact with other employees such as in common areas and shift changes. It also addresses high-touch points and facility-wide recommendations.
Cares Act Tax And Loan Programs For Workers, Companies Outlined

The COVID-19 stimulus package (CARES Act) that was signed into law late last week contained a number of tax and loan programs that could benefit workers and companies. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFF) has assembled some information regarding these programs, the qualification requirements, and process requirements for making application.
FFCRA Requires Employers To Display Posters As Of April 1

MWFPA wishes to remind our members of the requirement for all small businesses under 500 employees. The recently signed Family First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) requires employers to post the FFCRA poster no later than the close of business April 1.  

For further questions or access to a PDF copy of the poster, information about FFCRA, and posting requirements, please use the following links. 

Take Cyber Precautions as Scammers Exploit COVID-19 Fears

As COVID-19 continues to spread, there has been an uptick in cyber attacks as a result of the incredible amount of information being shared on-line. Criminals don't let any crisis go to waste when it comes to hacking.

Following are some helpful suggestions from MWFPA Associate Member M3 to aid in you remaining "cyber-safe".  Click here .
IL Dept. of Ag Staff Ready To Assist Food & Agribusiness Companies

The Illinois Department of Agriculture's marketing staff are here for you during this unprecedented time. If you have questions about their program/services, status of an event etc., please contact them. They are working remotely and are committed to offering our assistance any way they can. Staff are listed below.

Below are links we would like to share to various public/private groups that have assistance programs/services available or have resources with information that could assist an Illinois Food or Agribusiness Company during this difficult and challenging time. This is not comprehensive, but resources we wanted to share. If you are aware of other resources that we could add, please e-mail Kim Hamilton at kim.hamilton@illinois.gov and they will be updated and shared.
 
State of IL site for COVID-19 (Resources for Businesses):  https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/resources-for-business  

I L Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (Emergency & Small Business Grants & Loan Assistance):   https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/EmergencySBAIntiatives.aspx

U.S. Small Business Administration (Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources ): https://www.sba.gov/  


Illinois Farm Bureau:   http://ilfb.org/covid19  

Illinois Farmer's Market Association https://www.ilfma.org/item/83-covid-19-and-farmers-markets  


Staff:
Jackie Alexander- jackie.alexander@illinois.gov
U.S. Judge Relaxes Absentee Ballot Requirements In WI

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic U.S. Judge William Conley relaxed requirements for absentee ballots as Wisconsin voters have requested them in record numbers prior to the April 7 election.
Conley refused to push back the election in today's ruling, finding it wouldn't be appropriate for a federal judge to do so.
Judge Conley:
*extended until 4 p.m. April 13 the deadline for absentee ballots to be received so they can be counted for the election. State law normally requires those ballots to be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
*pushed back to 5 p.m. today the deadline to request an absentee ballot.
*enjoined the state from requiring those voting absentee to have a witness sign the envelope in which they return the ballot if they are unable to do so safely. Those who don't include a witness signature on their ballot envelopes must include an affirmation or other statement why they weren't able to safely meet the requirement. It will be left to local clerks whether to accept the voter's reasons for not completing the witness certification requirement.
Conley also didn't add a new requirement for when ballots must be postmarked. That means ballots mailed after Tuesday's election will still count so long as local clerks receive them by the new April 13 deadline.

A lawyer for the Republican National Committee and the Wisconsin Republican Party, Patrick Strawbridge, filed a notice of appeal soon after Conley issued his opinion. The Republican legislature filed an appeal Thursday, too.
Plethora Of Resources Available For Your Business & Family To Deal With COVID-19

There are many resources available to inform you about COVID-19. Below are those that may be of assistance for your business/organization, your community, and your family. Thanks to MWFPA Associate Member Michael Best Strategies for assembling these.
 
·      Coronavirus Response Package Phase III- Final CARES ACT
 
·      Coronavirus Response Package Phase II- Family First Coronavirus Response ACT
 
·      Bloomberg - Coronavirus Update

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

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
·      Twitter ( here )
·      Facebook ( here )

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
·      Twitter ( here )
·      Facebook ( here )

What you should know:
·      How COVID-19 Spreads
·      Symptoms
·      Testing
·      What You Need to Know
·      Facts about COVID-19

Situation Updates:
·      Situation Summary
·      Cases in the U.S.
·      Risk Assessment

Information for Businesses:
·      CISA: Risk Management for COVID-19
·      PDF

Sanitation Practices/Food Safety
·     The US Food and Drug Administration has posted information about plant sanitation and food safety on its web site: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

Information for Travel and Transportation:
·       Information for Travel
·      Guidance for Ships
·      State: Travel Advisories
·      State: Traveler’s Checklist
·      PDF

Information for Families and Households:
Brian Elliott | Midwest Food Products Association | Ph: (608) 255-9946 | Fax: (608) 255-9838
Web: www.mwfpa.org