COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources and Information
Updated November 20, 2020
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19.
General information about COVID-19:
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 are open for regular business.
We are 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.
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 email@example.com or 803-734-2179.
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:
- Commissioner Weathers Urges Calm on Food Supply
- Commissioner Weathers: Food and Fiber Industries Are Essential During Emergency
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 provides direct payments and commodity purchases to assist producers affected by the pandemic.
- In September, USDA announced a second round of CFAP funding for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept CFAP 2 applications through December 11, 2020. 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.
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. SBA is currently accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications from all qualified small businesses, including agricultural businesses, and private nonprofit organizations.
- USDA statement on agricultural producer eligibility for EIDL program
- Find more information about SBA disaster loans here.
- See the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application here.
Paycheck Protection Program: The CARES Act also included $350 billion for a new loan program available under SBA: The Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP closed Aug. 8, 2020.
Farmers to Food Banks
Seeking a way to help farmers and needy families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and SC Advocates for Agriculture teamed up to create the Farmers to Food Banks program in June 2020.
Using money donated by generous companies and individuals, this program granted funding to nine distributors (selected by a review committee) to buy produce from South Carolina farmers and create food boxes to donate to Feeding America food banks.
Through three rounds of funding, Farmers to Food Banks has supported 33 farms, and distributed 20,959 boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to needy families. SCDA may consider additional rounds of fundraising and distribution.
- Recommendations for Reopening SC Restaurants – South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association
- COVID-19 Reopening Guidance – National Restaurant Association
- Chefs that need help sourcing Certified South Carolina produce and products can reach out to our marketing staff.
- Coronavirus Information and Resources for Restaurants – National Restaurant Association
- Find Local Farm-Fresh Food During COVID-19
- How to Find Local Meat in South Carolina
- Guidelines for Farmers Markets During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Guidelines for U-Pick Farms During the COVID-19 Outbreak
- Poster – Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 (color or grayscale)
- Póster – Ayuda a Prevenir la Propagación de COVID-19 (color o escala de grises)
- How to Buy Local While Social Distancing: On-Farm Pickups & More! – Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
- Protective Measures for U-Pick Farms – The South Carolina Grower
- COVID-19 Resources for Dairies – The Center for Dairy Excellence
- COVID-19 Resources for Agribusiness – Clemson Extension
- Assurance About Food Safety and Supply for People and Animals During COVID-19 – FDA
- Safely Distributing Unused Human Food for Animal Food Use During COVID-19 – FDA
- Pesticide Certification Renewal Deadline and Testing Postponed Due to COVID-19 – Clemson
- Farmer Relief Fund – American Farmland Trust
- Helpful Questions and Answers About Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pets – FDA
- For information about applying for SNAP benefits and other assistance, visit South Carolina’s multi-agency SCMAPP portal.
- Temporary policy on qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule – FDA