farm

UConn Extension has Stress Management Resources for Ag Producers

UConn Extension has Stress Management Resources for Agricultural Producers

Article by MacKenzie White

 

graphic that says it is okay to ask for help and provides contact information for UConn Extension agricultural stress management resourcesWe understand many of our Connecticut farms and families have been dealing with stress long before this pandemic took place. May is National Mental Health Month, although it may seem like there is nothing to celebrate, reaching out to someone could really help them, and that’s worth celebrating.

Through a collaborative of UConn Extension faculty and staff along with some of our critical partners (Farm Credit East, ACA, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau, CT NOFA, Eggleston Equine, and Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services) we created a resource page to help agricultural producers mitigate some of the stressors they are facing. The page is located at:  http://ctfarmrisk.uconn.edu/agstress.php

We know caring for your crops and animals is hard enough but caring for your own health and wellness in this high-stress profession should be a priority as well for your farm business. Your mental health success is part of your agribusiness success.

It is hard to get the help you need when you don’t necessarily know where to begin. If you are experiencing symptoms of depressing or have suicidal thoughts, ask or reach out for help.

  • Reach out to a loved one
  • Talk to your friends or a medical provider
  • Are you at risk? Need help now? In Crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 211 in CT, or Text “CT” to 741741.
  • In an emergency call or text 911

Making time for self-care can help you manage everyday stress and achieve more energy, have better focus and even reach new levels of productivity. Some self-care steps to take include the following:

  • Eat well
  • Get enough rest
  • Taking deep breaths
  • Exercise
  • Writing in a journal

We have also created a Private Facebook Group for Farmers and Agricultural Service Providers to communicate with one another through this challenging time for all of us. Join the group today at https://www.facebook.com/groups/361718224745725/

We at UConn Extension are working though unable to make farm visits at this time. We do offer assistance via email, phone and virtual meetings. Please let us know if we can help you. Please remember, if you see something, say something!

Economic Assistance Programs for Agriculture & Businesses

Economic Assistance Programs

Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Applications can be submitted starting today.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

For more information and updates, visit Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PayCheckProtection.

Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering all states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for coronavirus relief loan options.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan  

  • The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • Click here to apply.
  • For questions, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail  disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Apply for the Loan Advance here.

Other Coronavirus Assistance
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for a loan advance of up to $10,000.

The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

Terms:

  • Up to $25,000
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

The SBA can also provide debt relief to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. For information click here.

Farm and Business Financial Analysis

SRAC 4400: Introduction to Financial Management of Aquaculture Businesses – click here.
SRAC 4401: Assessing the Financial Position of an Aquaculture Business: Using Balance Sheets – click here.
SRAC 4402: Determining the Profitability of an Aquaculture Business: Using Income Statements and Enterprise Budgets – click here.
SRAC 4403: Evaluating the Liquidity/Cash Position of an Aquaculture Business: Using Cash Flow Statements – click here.

Please note federal websites are being updated daily to reflect loan program changes to improve access or new programs authorized by the CARES Act.  If a link no longer functions, go to the agency website and look for a coronavirus economic assistance program link.

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Agriculture Producer Survey Request

Angie Harris
Agricultural Producers: Please take this five minute survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. The Governor of Connecticut issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order except for essential businesses on March 23, 2020. The Commissioner of Agriculture clarified, per Executive Order 7H, that agriculture businesses are considered “essential businesses”. This anonymous survey will help us to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s agriculture industry. Results will be used to continue developing Extension resources.
 
Take the survey at: bit.ly/Ag_COVID

Join us for a Farmer Focus Group Tomorrow

vegetables in a wheelbarrow in a greenhouse
Photo: USDA
Invite to Farmer Focus Group

Do you struggle with getting all the work done on your farm?  Do you have challenges attracting and retaining employees?  Are you interested in working with other farmers to design solutions to labor challenges?  If so, consider attending the farmer focus group, Exploring Novel Approaches to Farm Labor, at the CT NOFA Winter Conference in Middletown on March 7th from 12:30—1:45.  [A vegetarian box lunch will be provided]  We will discuss three potential farm labor models and the opportunities, challenges, and interests of each one.  Be prepared to provide your input and feedback! Register now by clicking here We are seeking small to mid-scale diversified fruit and vegetable farmers in Connecticut (and New England + New York) who practice sustainable growing methods and market products directly to consumers or engage in wholesale/institutional markets.  We are particularly interested in producers who hire full-time, part-time seasonal workers, and/or family members.  An electronic gift card of $50 will be provided. 

FYI – A second opportunity to participate will be in the evening of March 30th at CT Farm Bureau Association, time tbd.

This project is funded by a Northeast SARE Novel Approaches grant, LNE19-386R. 

Agritourism and Direct Sales Survey

norton brothers farm market

Agritourism and Direct Sales Survey – If you have visitors on your farm, ranch, vineyard, or fishery, you are invited to take part in a national survey about agritourism and direct sales. Whether you have a farmstand, u-pick, CSA, tastings, school field trips, events, tours, hunting, overnight stays, or open your farm to the public in any other ways, your experiences are important. This survey is confidential and should take about 10 minutes to complete. Results will be used to develop tools and resources for farmers. The survey will close January 31. Questions can be directed to Lisa Chase, lisa.chase@uvm.edu or 802-257-7967.

The survey is at: www.tinyurl.com/agritourismsurvey 

One-On-One Agricultural Advising Sessions

one on one agricultural advising with UConn Extension

The UConn Extension RMA program has offered one-on-one advising sessions for several years. Due to the popularity of this program, we are offering 3 days this winter for you to meet in a private session with an advisor. We are offering a wide array of topics to choose from. The brochure has the full schedule.

Contact MacKenzie White at mackenzie.white@uconn.edu or at 860-875-3331 to register.

Workshop: Production Agriculture – Back to Basics

back to basics flyerProduction Agriculture – BACK TO BASICS 

Farmers of all experience are encouraged to join the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, University of Connecticut, and the American Farmland Trust on Thursday, January 9, 2020 from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon, Connecticut to hear the latest in IPM/biocontrol, soil management, and water programs.

Aaron Ristow of the American Farmland Trust will discuss his findings on the economic and environmental impacts of soil health practices. This is a free program and pesticide credits will be offered.

Register online now at http://bit.ly/2PNPDPC. For more information please contact Erin Windham at 860-713-2543 or Erin.Windham@ct.gov.

Dress your Table with Connecticut Grown this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal featuring Connecticut Grown foodsPreparations are underway in many homes for the Thanksgiving holiday. Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt would like to recognize the many hands that play a role in putting food on your table, including the more than 5,500 farm families in Connecticut.

“Connecticut farmers are an essential segment of our state’s economy—but also a critical component to the wonderful food that many of us gather around each Thanksgiving,” Governor Lamont said. “That is why, when preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, consider using Connecticut Grown products–from delicious turkey to incredible deserts and other beverages, Connecticut farmers provide families with affordable and nutritious food options. Make this year a true Connecticut Thanksgiving with Connecticut Grown.”

According to the National Turkey Federation, 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. Now is the time to place your order for a Connecticut Grown turkey. More than a dozen Connecticut turkey producers can be found at www.ctgrown.gov offering fresh or frozen, heritage or grass-fed, pastured raised birds. Nearly all of the ingredients for your appetizers, sides, beverages, and desserts can be found by stopping by a holiday farmers’ market, farm stand, farm winery, brewery, or your local grocery store that features products from neighboring farms.

“From a Connecticut Grown turkey to potatoes, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables, cranberries, greens, cheese, milk, beer and wine, we can, and do, produce it here,” says Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Farmers are the backbone of our nation and we are fortunate to have a diverse array of agriculture in Connecticut creating a bountiful harvest.”

If you are looking for ways to prepare your Connecticut Grown food, there are hundreds of recipes on our Pinterest board for you to try. We have you covered with traditional dishes, modern twists on a long-time favorites, and ideas for using up leftovers. Find those recipes, and more, by clicking here: https://www.pinterest.com/GrowCTAg/boards/

As you sit down with family and friends to celebrate all that you are thankful for, remember to thank a farmer.

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.