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COVID-19 EMERGENCY INFORMATION CENTER

Message from Commissioner Jewel Bronaugh


The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has established this Coronavirus (COVID-19) website to provide relevant and up-to-date guidance and resources related to agriculture and agribusiness concerns.

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia in response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 on March 12, 2020.

Click here to access other health and safety measures issued by Governor Northam.

Per Governor Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-three, the following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours: Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations; Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers; Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology; Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities; Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers; Lawn and garden equipment retailers; Beer, wine, and liquor stores; Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores; Retail located within healthcare facilities; Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions; Pet stores and feed stores; Printing and office supply stores; and Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

Protecting Farms, Industry or Agribusiness Operations

All farmers and business owners can protect employees and customers by following local COVID-19 safety measures and current food safety standards. Expanding current safety practices can help slow the disease spread in the community and reduce working days lost due to illness. The following is a list of federal and state resources to help protect farms, industry and agribusiness operations:

Following a request by Governor Northam, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. Click here to submit a loan application through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Federal and State Resources Pertaining To Food, Fiber, Feed and Other Agriculture/Forestry Issues

FEDERAL RESOURCES

The USDA has established the following websites to address COVID-19 related questions and issues pertaining to agriculture and food:

Food Supply Chain
Any questions about the food supply chain (including farm, food, fertilizer, feed, food processing or logistics) should be directed to foodsupplychain@usda.gov.

H2A and Emergency Visas
To access information and changes regarding decisions made by foreign consulates and embassies, growers, contractors and others visit farmers.gov/manage/h2a.

School nutrition during school closings
Waivers have been issued by the USDA to allow meal service during school closures. Nutrition assistance questions should be sent to feedingkids@usda.gov.

STATE RESOURCES

CONSUMER INFORMATION
When Governor Northam’s state of emergency declaration, price gouging laws went into effect pursuant to Virginia Code § 59.1-525.

FOOD ACCESS
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and VDACS are working together to continue the availability of meals to children through the National School Lunch Program waivers for Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Summer Option. For a list of approved sites, please call 2-1-1 or go to VDOE's COVID-19 page.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks is working through seven regional food banks across the state to provide food to those in need.

Foodbanks Map

Feeding Southwest Virginia
1025 Electric Rd., Salem, VA 24153
540.342.3011
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
96 Laurel Hl., Verona, VA 24482
540.248.3663
Capital Area Food Bank
6833 Hill Park Dr., Lorton, VA 22079
202.526.5344 
Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank
3631 Lee Hill Dr., Fredericksburg, VA 22408
540.371.7666
Feed More, Inc.
1415 Rhoadmiller St., Richmond, VA 23220
804.521.2500

Virginia Peninsula Foodbank
96 Laurel Hl., Verona, VA 24482
540.248.3663

Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore
800 Tidewater Dr., Norfolk, VA 23504
757.627.6599

 

The VDACS' Food Distribution program manages the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in the Commonwealth. CSFP works to improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. TEFAP is a federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Foods from these programs are made available to food banks for distribution to Virginians in need.
VDACS’ Food Distribution program proudly supports Virginia’s agriculture industry and markets Virginia products as well as USDA-donated foods to schools and institutional buyers. Contact the VDACS' Food Distribution program if you have a product suitable for Virginia food service programs.

FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS
Per Governor Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-three, Virginians are strongly urged to avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people. The executive order further states that all dining and congregation areas in the following establishments must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These establishments may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Establishments include: Restaurants; Dining establishments; Food courts; Farmers markets; Breweries; Microbreweries; Distilleries; Wineries; and Tasting rooms.

Latest Information about Waivers and Relevant Changes to Agriculture Related Services and Regulations

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

  • QUESTION:

    How is VDACS instructing employees to work during COVID-19? What is the best way to reach them?
    ANSWER: VDACS continues to provide essential services during this emergency. Staff are responding to request for service using normal communication methods, so please continue to contact these services in the manner in which you contacted them prior to COVID-19.
    VDACS, along with most other state agencies, continues to arrange for as many employees as possible to work from home or telework. This may result in temporary changes in the way VDACS staff communicate and interact with clients and stakeholders. In some cases, it may require rescheduling of inspections, training opportunities or other services.
    VDACS’ employees are adhering to the best practices that apply to everyone - frequent hand washing; watching for symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath; staying home if sick; and limiting social contact
    In addition, VDACS has been coordinating response efforts within the Virginia Emergency Operations Center as the situation around novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Virginia continues to develop.

  • QUESTION:

    Given the Governor’s direction, can open-air farmers markets be held? 
    ANSWER: Per Governor Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-three, Virginians are strongly urged to avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people. The executive order further states that all dining and congregation areas in the following establishments must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These establishments may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Establishments include restaurants, dining establishments food courts, farmers' markets, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries and tasting rooms.

    Guidance for farmers' markets, distilleries and breweries (pdf)  

  • QUESTION:

    Is there guidance for distilleries that want to produce hand sanitizer/antiseptic? 
    ANSWER: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have provided guidance on the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help boost supply and protect public health. Click here for more information from the FDA. Click here for more information from the TTB.

  • QUESTION: Can I still apply for agriculture best management cost share for conservation practices on my farm?
    ANSWER: Each soil and water conservation district determines whether their offices are open to the public. Please call your local soil and water conservation district and inquire how they are handling sign-ups. Click here to find which soil and water conservation district works with farmers in your county or city.
  • QUESTION: Are the VDACS Regional Animal Health Laboratories open to help farmers and veterinarians with diagnostic testing?
    ANSWER: VDACS is working toward maintaining continuity of service to the fullest extent possible given the current public health concerns and logistical challenges. As operations are changing frequently in response to COVID-19, please call the VDACS Regional Animal Health Laboratory in your area to ensure hours of operation.
Harrisonburg Laboratory
261 Mount Clinton Pike
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
540.209.9130, Fax: 540.432.1195
RAHLHarrisonburg@vdacs.virginia.gov
Lynchburg Laboratory
4832 Tyreeanna Road
Lynchburg, VA 24504
434.200.9988, Fax: 434.947.2577
RAHLLynchburg@vdacs.virginia.gov


Warrenton Laboratory

272 Academy Hill Road
Warrenton, VA 20186
540.316.6543, Fax: 540.347.6404 
RAHLWarrenton@vdacs.virginia.gov

Wytheville Laboratory
250 Cassell Road
Wytheville, VA 24382
276.228.5501, Fax: 276.223.1961
RAHLWytheville@vdacs.virginia.gov

  • QUESTION:

    Are there any changes to schedules for livestock markets? Are VDACS graders still supporting these sales?
    ANSWER: VDACS is not aware of any markets that have closed at this time. VDACS Livestock Services is continuing to support livestock auction sales. Before attending a livestock auction, you should call ahead to verify the schedule..


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