COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Resources and Information
Updated September 24, 2021
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic.
General information about COVID-19:
Commissioner Weathers encourages eligible people to get vaccinated.
Currently, all South Carolinians age 12 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s vaccine information page can be found here. Make an appointment by using scdhec.gov/vaxlocator or by calling DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110 for help.
The CDC has a communication toolkit to promote vaccination among essential workers, including the food and agriculture sector.
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
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief funding, includes more than $10 billion in new funding for agriculture. The allocation includes grant and loan funding; food and agricultural commodity purchasing funding; and financial and educational assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
USDA’s new relief initiative, announced March 24, 2021, is known USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers. In addition to more CFAP funding (see below) and funding for existing programs, it includes $6 billion in new assistance.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is updating the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry and producers of specialty crops and other sales-based commodities. CFAP 2, which assists producers who faced market disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19, is part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set an Oct. 12 deadline for all eligible producers to apply for or modify applications for CFAP 2. Information can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.
The American Rescue Plan Act also specifically includes debt relief for socially disadvantaged producers. USDA’s overview of this relief, including steps that borrowers can take now, can be found here.
USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program: Information about the Farmers to Families Food Box program, including lists of contracted suppliers and amounts distributed in each funding round, can be found here.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: The Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) is still accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications from qualified small businesses, including agricultural businesses and private nonprofit organizations. See the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application here, and find more information about EIDL here.
Paycheck Protection Program: The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program ended May 31, 2021.
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
- SCDHEC Education and Outreach Materials, including COVID-19 safety posters in Spanish
- 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
- 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
- Considerations for Controlling COVID-19 Spread in Retail Food Establishments [pdf] – DHEC
- Retail Virtual Inspections [ppt] – DHEC
- COVID-19 in Meat Processing Establishments [ppt] – Clemson