Connecticut

Food Safety and COVID-19

raised bed in foodshare garden

March 26, 2020 Update

The following information has been compiled for the general public and for those who come under essential businesses in Connecticut.

FDA resources:

  • FDA has recently stated that food supply is safe among COVID-19 and there are no current disruptions in the supply chain. Consumers should be confident in the safety of their food. To read more about coronavirus impacting the food industry please visit FDA leaders_food supply is safe.
  • If you have questions such as
      1. How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?
      2. A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees? 

or other concerns regarding Food safety and COVID-19, please visit FDA Latest FAQs

Consumer resources:

  • As a consumer if you have questions such as
      1. Should I mist produce with a very diluted bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) and let it air dry before I eat it to avoid contracting COVID-1?
      2. Does cooking foods kill the virus that causes COVID-19? (Short answer- YES) 

Please visit Consumer_FAQs

Since, it is believed that cooking can kill viruses, it is recommended that the high-risk population (especially under current circumstances) such as immunocompromised hosts and seniors, avoid the consumption of RAW produce.

Other food safety resources:

  • For questions that food industry in other states (NY and neighboring) may have such as
      1. How long can COVID-19 remain viable on different surfaces?
      2. Can animals raised for food and animal products be source of infection with COVID-19?

Please visit FAQs_FoodIndustry

For businesses:

  • Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program,a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). All of the information can be found at  CT_Recovery Bridge Loan Program
  • The American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fundwill award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers. For complete information go to the ATF website at Farmer Relief Fund.

As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. At UConn extension, we will try to answer your queries as soon as possible and keep you updated as we know more.

Educator: Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD,

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

Executive Order 7H – Essential Businesses

Dept of Ag logoCONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE EXECUTIVE ORDER 7H – ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES

(HARTFORD, CT) – On March 20, 2020, The Governor issued Executive Order 7H, directing all businesses and nonprofit entities in the State of Connecticut to utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ. That order also directed that, no later than March 23, 2020 at 8 p.m., each non-essential business or nonprofit entity (and therefore not including or applicable to any state or local government agencies, quasi-public agencies, political subdivisions or other entities that do not constitute businesses or nonprofits) shall reduce the in-person workforce at each business location by 100% from pre-state of emergency declaration employment levels. Executive Order 7H authorized the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (“DECD”) to provide legally binding guidance about which businesses are essential.

Pursuant to that directive, Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt is sharing the business exemption guidance issued by DECD, clarifying which food and agriculture businesses and related services are deemed essential.

“Maintaining operations of food and agriculture are essential to keeping our residents fed and healthy during this time,” Commissioner Hurlburt said. “We recognize that this is an unprecedented time and appreciate the efforts of our small businesses and their employees. Our staff is working diligently to ensure public and animal health needs are met. We continue to strongly recommend that businesses, consumers and the public adhere to social distancing measures and best health practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Per the executive order and guidance document, businesses and organizations that provide food for disadvantaged populations, veterinary services, food processing, agriculture, livestock, feed mills, and warehousing should all continue to operate, but with every precaution to maintain social distancing. Below is a complete list of Department of Agriculture’s regulated communities deemed essential businesses.

For purposes of Executive Order 7H, “essential business,” means:

Essential workers in the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors, as defined by the federal Department of Homeland Security unless otherwise addressed in a prior or future executive order 450 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06103 Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity Employer

pertaining to the existing declared public health and civil preparedness emergency.

Essential Food and agriculture businesses, including:

  • farms and farmer’s markets
  • food banks
  • food manufacturing, processing, storage, and distribution facilities
  • nurseries, garden centers, and agriculture supply stores
  • restaurants/bars (provided compliance with all applicable executive orders is maintained)
  • all manufacturing and corresponding supply chains, including agriculture
  • animal shelters or animal care or management, including boarding, grooming, pet walking and pet sitting

Essential businesses for continuity of commerce:

  • commercial trucking
  • utilities including power generation, fuel supply, and transmission
  • grocery stores including all food and beverage retailers
  • hardware, paint, and building material stores, including home appliance sales/repair
  • liquor/package stores and manufacturer permittees
  • pet and pet supply stores
  • warehouse/distribution, shipping, and fulfillment

Businesses essential to agriculture business:

  • research and laboratory services, including testing and treatment of COVID-19
  • veterinary and animal health services
  • accounting and payroll services
  • critical operations support for financial institutions
  • financial advisors
  • financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and check cashing services
  • all skilled trades such as electricians, HVAC, and plumbers
  • general construction, both commercial and residential
  • pest control services

About the CT DoAg The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) is foster a healthy economic, environmental and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state’s citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage and its contribution to the state’s economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.

Free Environmental Webinar Series from UConn CLEAR

social distancing
The UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research is offering free webinars. Here is the schedule for the next three weeks:
 
WEDNESDAY MARCH 25, 2020 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
UConn Environment Corps: Harnessing Student Power to Help Towns
Chet Arnold, CLEAR Director
THURSDAY MARCH 26, 2020 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM
Emergency Changes to the Land Use Process in the COVID-19 Era
Sara C. Bronin
Thomas F. Gallivan Chair of Real Property Law, UConn Law School
Chair, Hartford Planning Commission
 
MONDAY MARCH 30, 2020 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Collaboratives & Utilities: New Options for Municipal Stormwater Management
Amanda Ryan, CLEAR MS4 Extension Educator
 
WEDNESDAY APRIL 1, 2020 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Moving with the Marshes
Juliana Barrett, Coastal Resources Extension Educator, CT Sea Grant
 
MONDAY APRIL 6, 2020 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
From Maps to Apps: Accessible Tech for field scientists and citizen scientists alike
Cary Chadwick, CLEAR Geospatial Extension Educator
 
WEDNESDAY APRIL 8, 2020 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Statewide Lidar Elevation Points in Interactive, Color 3D!!
Emily Wilson, CLEAR Geospatial Extension Educator
 
Registration:
 
 
 
 

Important Resources for Aquaculture Farmers

shellfish
Photo: Tessa Getchis

March 19, 2020

COVID AND SEAFOOD SAFETY – By the National Fisheries Institute, includes responses to specific questions, as well as four simple talking points. 

REGULATORY INFO FOR DIRECT SALES
Get the information you need to make direct sales in your community.

NEED HELP GETTING WORD OUT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA?
Are you trying to make sales in your community during COVID-19, email Tessa.Getchis@uconn.edu.

 

March 17, 2020
SHELLFISH SAMPLING
Per the Connecticut DA/BA, shellfish sampling will continue along the coast so that harvest areas may remain open. Email David Carey or call (203) 874-0696 with any questions.

March 13,2020
US SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCIATION DISASTER ASSISTANCE
Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail

CONNECTICUT COVID-19 PORTAL

US CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL 

US DEPT OF STATE TRAVEL ADVISORIES

FREE ONLINE TRAINING IN AQUACULTURE

Content curated by Tessa Getchis, UConn Extension & CT Sea Grant

Information for Nursery & Landscape Professionals

CNLA logo

For additional resources visit our COVID-19 page.

The novel coronavirus is causing disruption not only to our industry, but globally. An industry entrenched in tradition is having to find new ways to close deals without a handshake. I am working on personally reaching out to you, our members, to stay current on how you are handling things during this unique time in your business. I invite you to contact me at any time at (860) 459-1960.

I encourage you all to look at this uncertain time as an opportunity for growth. Here are a few suggestions on how you can stay ahead of the curve:

  1. Remain Calm. Your attitude resonates through your employees and your customers. If you stay collective, we can stay productive.
  2. Stay Outdoors. Find a way to offer outdoor cash registers to help customers feel more comfortable shopping with you.
  3. Disable Signatures. To limit touch points talk to your credit card processing company to see if you can disable the need for signatures.
  4. Sell Jobs Online. Utilize online meeting features, like Gotomeeting, to sell landscape jobs, still allowing customers to see your design without having to email them a copy of it.
  5. Delivery & To Go. Implement a curb side pickup or delivery option. Take payment online or over the phone to limit the need for contact.
  6. Virtual Shopping. Post a video or photos of what you currently have in your store and allow for purchase to be made over the phone or online. 
  7. Facetime Shopping. Give clients the ability to still work one on one with a sales person by offering shopping through video chat. Android users can use Skype or Duo. 
  8. Upsell Edibles. As the grocery supply chain is stressed help increase food security by allowing people to grow their own food.
  9. Stay Healthy. I am sure you have already adapted the best practices outlined by the CDC. Below are resources that are especially valuable at this time:
  1. Communicate. Be sure to stay in communication with your customers by sending out an email similar to this, sharing what your business is doing to keep them and your employees healthy.
  2. Be Accommodating. Even if you are not worried about the coronavirus, your customers might be. Go above and beyond for your customers during this unique time.
  3. Shop Local. Be sure to support other local businesses around you to help ease any burdens.

CNLA’s lobbyist Linda Kowalski is working full-time for us to ensure that the case is made to state officials for keeping nursery and landscape businesses open in the event the state requires a wider closure of businesses beyond those which have already been announced. This would be to keep the supply chain open. In addition, she is getting information to us in real-time about issues such as the availability of SBA loans and the latest procedures for applying for unemployment compensation.   Linda and I are in communication with state officials; we both have talked with Commissioner Hurlburt to update him on our members’ situation. You can read Linda’s latest legislative report here.

AmericanHort has also shared that, effective March 18th, the U.S. Consulate in Mexico will cease all visa processing. AmericanHort knows many businesses are awaiting the arrival of workers via seasonal worker visa programs and they are in touch with government partners and business coalitions working to ensure these programs are not unnecessarily disrupted. They are also monitoring relief legislation taking shape in Congress and weighing in on points of concern for our industry, especially with respect to business “safety net” programs administered by agencies like the Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture.

The health of our families, employees, customers, vendors and partners remains paramount. While COVID-19 is not likely to be lethal for most of the population, we must recognize the danger that it poses for vulnerable individuals and the part we all play in protecting those around us. We urge every nursery and landscape business to implement logical, common-sense practices to reduce transmission, thereby keeping more people safe and making the public health response the most effective it can be.

We value what you contribute to our green industry and greatly appreciate your support. We are all in this together.

Article by Dustyn Nelson, President, Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association

For additional resources visit our COVID-19 page.

Bears will be waking up when warm weather hits

source: PixabayBlack bears will be coming out of hibernation as the weather warms. Their populations have been growing and more bears means increased sightings and potential conflicts with humans. Reduce reasons for them to come into your yard by removing bird feeders and bring in garbage cans promptly.

Follow the link for for more information:

https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325968&deepNav_GID=1655&inf_contact_key=dd6ecf34fdb3772eccef218e16130b43

Register for UConn 4-H Goat Day

Mia Herrera and goat at show in KentuckyUConn 4-H Goat Day is on Saturday, April 4, 2020 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM in the Ratcliffe Hicks Arena on the UConn-Storrs campus. This event is designed for youth ages 7-18, parents, leaders and adult goat enthusiasts from around New England.

UConn 4-H Goat Day features various workshops held throughout the day such as Dairy Goat Showmanship, Goat Knowledge and Crafts, Hoof Trimming and Milking. The workshops will be covering topics such as goat evaluation, management, health, nutrition, and goat products. Participants will gain knowledge about goats whether you are looking to purchase one or expand your farm. This is the perfect opportunity for 4-H members who have goat projects to learn more about goat care and management, while also learning about skills they can use during their future shows. Presenters include veterinarians, American Dairy Goat Association judges, goat owners and industry professionals. Registration is due March 11th and can be found at 4-H.uconn.edu.

This event is sponsored by the UConn 4-H program. The UConn 4-H program is a youth development program of the UConn Extension System. Extension is in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities through experiential learning in Connecticut and beyond. The 4-H program is open to youth from ages 5 to 18. 4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The programs’ goal is to provide its members with various opportunities to develop leadership, public speaking and citizenship skills all while having fun. Members learn through projects of their interest. 4-H offers projects in interest areas such as photography, computers, plants and animals and many more. Beyond the projects, 4-H members can also participate in after-school programs, field trips, the 4-H camp and community service. Other upcoming 4-H program events include Expressive Arts Day and Citizenship Day.

CT Farmlink Website Improves Farmland Access for Farmers

screenshot of the homepage of the CT Farm Link websiteConnecticut FarmLink, a clearing house for the transition between generations of landowners with the goal of keeping farmland in production, is pleased to announce the launch of a redesigned website, www.ctfarmlink.org. A partnership between the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and the Connecticut Farmland Trust (CFT) with funding through the Community Investment Act (CIA) is ensuring new and beginning farmers are able to more easily locate and access farmland for their business. 

“One of the top barriers for beginning farmers to getting started, or having their own business, is land access,” said Bryan P. Hurlburt, Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner. “Connecticut FarmLink lets them find available land that meets their needs and evens the playing field to finding farm properties.”

The updated website now features log-in profiles, allowing both farmland owners and farmland seekers to edit, or deactivate, at their own convenience. A filter option enables them to select what they are looking for whether it’s properties, seekers, or resources. An integrated online messaging offers instant connection between all parties and email notifications will be sent when new farmland options have been posted.

“Users will be better able to manage their own information and the redesigned site is modeled after other FarmLink websites available nationally, making it more consistent for searchers,” says Lily Orr, Connecticut Farmland Trust Conservation Associate. Orr was responsible for working with a consultant to build and transition the website to the new format incorporating feedback from users to include features they requested.

There are currently more than 70 properties listed that are looking for a farmer to keep the land in production. “Agriculture is so diverse in Connecticut, we have people looking a quarter acre up to 200 acres, everything from vegetables and greenhouses to forestland for mushrooms or maple sugaring,” says Kip Kolesinskas, consulting Conservation Scientist. “The website is a source of information offering connections to agency programs and planning for everything related to leasing, farmland preservation and succession planning.”

To learn more about farmland available in Connecticut, visit www.ctfarmlink.org, or contact farmlink@ctfarmland.org.

Survey could help efforts to get more seafood eaten in CT

people eating seafood outside at picnic tables
Photo: Judy Benson

If you’re an average Connecticut resident, you probably didn’t eat seafood more than once in the last week.

But you might, if you knew more about how to prepare different types of fish, shellfish and seaweed, and where to buy local seafood. You’d also be inclined to have seafood more often if you knew more about its safety.

Those are some of the key findings of the Connecticut Seafood Survey, a 2½-year project to better understand current eating habits and how best to make of all types of seafood – but especially the shellfish, seaweed and fish from local waters – a more frequent part of state residents’ diets. Half the residents surveyed said they eat seafood just once a week – which is out of sync with the Food & Drug Administration’s recommendations. The FDA says adults should eat two or more servings per week to get all the nutritional benefits their bodies need.

Read more….

Article and photo by Judy Benson