COVID-19 Updates & Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Farms and Communities 

Despite the uncertainty around how COVID-19 will continue to affect our immediate day to day lives and the longer- term future, we must still find ways to work together on big picture issues that impact our future. How we farm and get food to our plates, and how we work together as communities is critical- perhaps now more than ever.  

KRC will continue to update and maintain this list to help share resources and navigate questions.  Please reach out to us using any of our points of contact to share resources, updates and how you or your community is working through this complicated time. Check back here for updates and new information.  We can also be accessed through the following channels –
E-mail: info@kansasruralcenter.org, Phone: 866-579-5469, Facebook: @KansasRuralCenter, Twitter: @ksruralcenter, Instagram: @kansasruralcenter.

FAQs Regarding COVID-19

How do shelter in place orders affect the mobility of farmers?

On March 24, 2020, Gov. Kelly signed an Executive Order No. 20-15 establishing the Kansas Essential Function Framework (KEFF), essential functions for COVID-19 response efforts.  In the event of local “shelter in place” orders, this executive order overrides exempt functions that must remain in operation.  Included in this order are: 

Produce and provide agricultural products and services (KEFF 400 Supply, page 5) 

Produce and provide human and animal food products and services (KEFF 400 Supply, page 5) 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) definitions of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” lists specific categories of Food and Agriculture workforce. Read Letter it here.  

For farmers and food businesses that need to move about under “stay at home” orders, maintain access to copies of executive order and DHS letter link above.   It is KRC’s understanding that anyone providing an essential service during COVID-19 shelter in place orders may also carry with them a travel exemption letter complete with farm or business letterhead (or farm/business name, address and contact information) and explanation of the business or service you are conducting that is exempt for the national, state, and local orders.   

Travel Exemption Letter Example 1

Travel Exemption Letter Example 2

Travel Exemption Letter example 3

Contingency plans for growers who will be impacted by closed farmers markets or farmers markets delayed openings? 

Right now online platforms and contactless delivery seem to be a popular method of immediate action to help fill the void of farmers markets.  A few resources have recently been released on platforms and how to list products online. See below. 

Webinars for Farms on how to sell products online – 

Oregon Tilth Webinar – Online Sales Platforms for Farmers 

NC State Hosting Free Webinars on Creating a Free Online Store for Your Farm

Funky Fresh Farmer’s Market in Wichita is one example of an online and delivery platform.  See how it works here.  

Platforms specific for Kansas producers are currently being explored by farmers and groups. Check back here for updates.  

How will the stimulus bill help small farms and local food? 

As of March 27, the House and Senate have unanimously passed The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S.3548), which is a $2.2 trillion aid bill as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.   The president signed the bill into law the same day.  

The CARES Act contains major provisions, including:  direct payments to most Americans; expanded unemployment insurance; assistance to hospitals; lending programs to support states, cities, and businesses; changes to payroll taxes; and a fund to prevent small business layoffs.  The bill also includes a provision for farmers, food insecurity and local food systems. This is a good first step to make sure the small farms and community food systems don’t get left behind in federal aid.

As reported by NSAC on March 26 responding to the Senate version of the bill, the most significant agricultural provision is the creation of a new $9.5 billion disaster relief program to provide “support for producers impacted by the coronavirus.” The funding is reserved for:

  • Specialty crop producers
  • Livestock producers (including dairy)
  • Producers that supply local food systems (including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools)

This funding is separate from the Commodity Credit Corporation, which has historically left out local and regional markets, specialty crop producers, or smaller-scale farmers who have fewer resources to draw on in times of economic stress or uncertainty.  

While these are promising first steps, Congress also does not provide USDA any direction and timeline on how the funds are distributed.  

An economic analysis developed for NSAC found that farmers who have lost access to direct markets as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and “social distancing” restrictions stand to lose more than $1 billion in sales this year. The CARES Act is critical to ensuring that damage to small farm and local food systems is mitigated.    

For ways to take action as the CARES Act makes its way through the House and USDA, tune in to KRC and NSAC action alerts.  For more information and analysis of the CARES Act as it relates to agriculture, food, and nutrition visit: https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/closer-look-farmer-relief-senate-pandemic-package/  

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has also posted a summary of the relief package here.  

According to a USDA press release on March 27, “The CARES Act also contains $100 million in ReConnect grants to expand access to broadband in rural America for educational purposes, business, and access to critical telehealth services. 

How can I purchase food from farmers during COVID-19 social distancing and shelter in place orders? 

According to the CDC, USDA, and FDA, there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Kansas producers are still here ready and willing to get safe food to Kansans!  

It’s KRC’s understanding that stay at home orders include obtaining food as an “essential” activity that requires you to leave your home.  If your city or county has a “stay home” order, check with your local city or county websites and offices for official guidelines.  

Please reach out to your farmers to learn how they can safely get products to you.  The list below includes directories and food hubs around Kansas. Check with your local farmers markets, food hubs, or farmers directly to see what they are doing to safely get their products to you.  Below are just a few contacts.

From the Land of Kansas – Statewide

ICT Food Circle – Wichita foodshed

KC Food Circle – KC foodshed

Growing Lawrence – Lawrence foodshed

High Plains Food Coop – Northwest Kansas

KC Food Hub – KC/Lawrence foodshed

Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance –  KC/Lawrence foodshed

Cultivate KC -KC/Lawrence Foodshed

Kansas Farmers Market Directory 

Connect – Organizations & Agencies Guidance on COVID-19

KDHE COVID-19 Resource Center – Updates on the status of COVID-19 in Kansas, public health updates and recommendations  

Office of Governor Laura Kelly – Find current executive orders and updates from the Governor here. 

 Kansas Department of Agriculture – Ag and food safety coronavirus resources and updates 

Farmers Market Guidance 

Livestock Markets Guidance 

Kansas Department of Commerce – Learn more about the resources and assistance available to businesses affected by COVID-19.

Kansas Department of Labor  – File for unemployment benefits online  or learn more about resources and information for employers and workers affected by COVID-19.   

USDA Rural Development – Find updates on loans, rural utilities, business services here.  

USDA Farmers.gov – Find updates to FSA farm loans, NRCS conservation programs, and disaster assistance programs here.  

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – Updates on national policy and action needed to support farms and community and local food systems.  

National Farmers Market Coalition – updates, best practices, and resources for farmers markets responding to COVID-19.  

Kansas Cattleman’s Association – Information and updates for Kansas cattle and other livestock producers.  

Livestock Marketing Association – National information and updates for livestock producers. 

Kansas Specialty Crop Growers Association –  In response to concerns over COVID-19 and marketing barriers, KSCGA will be posting information and resources on their website and on their Facebook page in the coming weeks.  Connect with other specialty crop growers and resources around the state. Membership is $10 but scholarships are available. 

Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund (HIRE) – Visit to apply and learn more about how the fund can help your business.  **HIRE announced that all initial funds available have been allocated at this time. However, they are keeping the form open and will continue to collect information from Kansas hospitality businesses on the losses they are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific Recommendation Updates for Farms & Communities

KDHE/KDA Recommend Voluntary Reduction in Burning

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently impacting all states, including Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Agriculture strongly encourages all land owners and managers to voluntarily reduce the number of acres that they intend to burn this spring.

The full press release is available on www.kansascattlemen.com

Livestock Sales and Other Services

Numerous live sales at local livestock commissions have either been cancelled or moved online to video auction. Some are restricting access, so be sure to check with your local sale barn for their policies. Additionally, veterinarian clinics, feed stores, and other related suppliers are implementing protocols to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19. Be sure to check with your suppliers for their specific protocols prior to visiting their respective physical locations.

Resources for Farms & Communities 

Kansas Ag Stress –  Mental health is more important than ever right now to take care of.  Kansas Ag Stress Resources provide information and ways to connect with professionals during these times of stress.  https://www.kansasagstress.org/  

Local Food and Farm directories & food hubs – Kansas producers are still here ready and willing to get safe food to Kansans. Please reach out to your farmers to learn how they can safely get products to you.  

From the Land of Kansas – Statewide

ICT Food Circle – Wichita foodshed

KC Food Circle – KC foodshed

Growing Lawrence – Lawrence foodshed

High Plains Food Coop – Northwest Kansas

KC Food Hub – KC/Lawrence foodshed

Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance –  KC/Lawrence foodshed

Cultivate KC -KC/Lawrence Foodshed

Kansas Farmers Market Directory 

Food and Farm Policy Councils – Connect with a local food and farm council to learn how you can help locally.  Find a list on page 14 of KRC’s 2019 Town Hall report or reach out to the Kansas Alliance for Wellness.   

Webinars for Farms on how to sell products online – 

Oregon Tilth Webinar – Online Sales Platforms for Farmers 

NC State Hosting Free Webinars on Creating a Free Online Store for Your Farm

Technical Resources on ATTRA Website Now Free of Cost – You no longer need to pay an annual subscription fee or individual publication fee to access any of the digital publications, videos, podcasts, and other resources and materials.  ATTRA’s services are available to farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, Extension agents, researchers, educators, farm organizations, and others involved in agriculture, especially those who are economically disadvantaged or belong to traditionally undeserved communities  .https://attra.ncat.org/

GAPs Cost Share Funds Available to Kansas Produce Growers

K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) has U.S. Department of Agriculture GAPs cost share funding available for Kansas produce growers. These funds are available for Kansas farmers who are re-applying for USDA GAPs certification or for farms who are applying for USDA GAPs certification for the first time. For more information, contact:  Londa Nwadike, Tel: 913-307-7391, Email: lnwadike@ksu.edu

EQIP helps farmers pay for high tunnels, other conservation projects

EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) provides financial support for conservation projects on working farmland.  A program of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, some examples of EQIP-funded practices include: High tunnels, Irrigation equipment, Filter strips, Conservation crop rotation, and Integrated pest management. NRCS has several great resources on the advance payment option: a web page, case study, and 1-pager (PDF).  Application deadline for the 2020 fiscal year has past for Kansas, however applications are accepted on a rolling basis.  Contact your local NRCS office to find out what options you have.