COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak

Updated July 6, 2020

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19.

General information about COVID-19:

 

Essential Industry Permits

Read Commissioner Weathers’ letter to law enforcement, updated April 10, 2020: “Designation of production and supply of food, agriculture, and farms as ‘Essential Services'”

If you work in a food- or agriculture-related business and would like a permit certifying that you are engaged in an essential industry, please contact Commissioner’s Office staff at harndt@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2179.

 

Food Safety

SCDA is not currently aware of any evidence suggesting COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods: wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly.

Farms and food processing facilities are already required under state and federal law to take steps to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses.

SCDA urges food producers to continue following best practices.

More on COVID-19 and Food Safety:

 

Food Supply

 

Facilities and Events

As the COVID-19 response continues, some SCDA staff are still working remotely. If you have business to conduct in-person, we suggest you reach out first by phone or email.

Our three State Farmers Markets remain open for regular business.

We will continue accepting deliveries via UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Hemp Handler and Processor permit applications can still be dropped off at our Consumer Protection Division facility at 123 Ballard Court in West Columbia. Our Metrology Lab is open but only accepting weights for calibration by appointments only.

The Phillips Market Center is open for events, though with limited capacity and extra sanitation practices in place.

 

Federal Aid for Agriculture

In March, Congress and President Trump approved a bipartisan aid package to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The total relief package includes roughly $2 trillion to bolster the US economy. You may access a summary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the ‘‘CARES Act’’ here. Some portions relevant to agriculture are outlined below.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: The USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will provide $19 billion in direct payments and commodity purchases.

  • Beginning May 26, USDA’s Farm Service Agency will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. Information about direct payments to producers, including eligible commodities, payment limitations, and application instructions, can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.
  • Information about the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program, including lists of contracted suppliers, can be found here.

Paycheck Protection Program: The CARES Act also included $350 billion for a new loan program available under SBA: The Paycheck Protection Program. This funding is for businesses with no more than 500 employees or eligible according to existing SBA regulations. This Paycheck Protection Program could provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. After the PPP exhausted its initial funding, an additional $50 billion was appropriated to the program in late April.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: As part of the CARES Act, Congress also appropriated $562 million in funding for the Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) is also available to businesses with no more than 500 employees, including emergency grants up to $10,000 to cover emergency expenses directly related to COVID-19, such as paid sick leave for employees directly affected by COVID-19, payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns, meeting increased costs to supply the supply chain, and paying obligations that cannot be met due to lost revenue.

 

Restaurants

As restaurants prepare to reopen, SCDA will continue offering resources and support to our hospitality partners.

 

Resources