COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak
Updated May 19, 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 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
Facilities and Events
SCDA offices are closed to the public. Staff are still available by phone and email, with many working remotely during the COVID-19 response.
Our three State Farmers Markets remain open for regular business.
We will continue accepting deliveries via UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Hemp permit applications can still be dropped off at our Consumer Protection Division facility at 123 Ballard Court in West Columbia. Our Metrology Lab is closed and is not accepting or releasing weights at this time.
SCDA has made the decision to postpone all events at SCDA facilities until at least May 10, 2020, to protect our South Carolina citizens and minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in our communities. This includes the Phillips Market Center, along with the State and Regional Farmers Markets. Events will be rescheduled or held virtually, as feasible.
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.
- PPP: Are you qualified?
- Contact your bank to learn more about this program availability or find a list of participating SBA Lenders serving South Carolina.
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.
- 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.
As restaurants prepare to reopen, SCDA will continue offering resources and support to our hospitality partners.
- Phase 1 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.
- For South Carolina-produced hand sanitizer, email Ross Taylor with Seaside Grown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For PPE, specifically face masks, you can place an order with Greenville’s OOBE Health.
- 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.