Farmers : COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Government’s top priority is protecting the health and safety of Islanders and limiting the spread of COVID19 in our province.

Health officials recognize that essential services, including food production, will have to be maintained even under the current restrictions. Your government is taking steps that will allow for these services to be delivered.

Advice for Farms and Agriculture-related Business

What Government of PEI programs for COVID-19 can I apply to?

The Government of PEI has recently announced a number of COVID-19 assistance programs for agriculture businesses and workers, including:

For information about these and other programs, visit:

Call 1-866-222-1751 between 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or email PEIbusinesshelpline@gov.pe.ca.

COVID-19 Financial Relief Measures Guide

The PEI Department of Agriculture and Land has pulled together a Financial Relief Measures Guide on the financial relief measures that have been put in place by both Federal and Provincial governments.  This document will continue to be updated as new measures are introduced.

If I have a COVID-related agriculture question not answered on this page, who can I contact?

For questions not answered on this page, email agr-covid@gov.pe.ca

    Frequently Asked Questions for Farmers

    Can I operate my farm as usual?

    Farms can continue to operate as long as operators follow the Chief Public Health Officer’s advice about controlling the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    The chief public health officer considers agricultural services to be an essential service. Because the provision of food is necessary for the health and safety of the public, provisions have been made to permit agricultural services workers to cross provincial and national borders.

    Can I access needed inputs and service providers, like feed, equipment, animal handlers or veterinary specialists, from out of province?

    Our food supply system is an essential service. We’re committed to ensuring agriculture can continue at this time and that all needed inputs and support services are available for our food producers. Follow federal and provincial information for the most up-to-date information on procedures and requirements for inter-provincial shipping and travel.

    Who can I contact for questions about screening people for entry at the Confederation Bridge?

    Please contact publicsafety@gov.pe.ca or call 902-368-5025

    Will the agriculture support services that I rely on be in place for the 2020 growing season?

    Both the federal and provincial governments have made commitments to work with agriculture to secure our food supply and to boost the economy. We are assessing the situation and will talk to the industry as we know more.

    Because the government is working under changing circumstances, we aren’t in a position to make commitments about programming and funding in the coming year.

    Will I be able to find child care if I return to my work in agriculture?

    Agriculture workers can notify the Department of Education that they require childcare services by completing the Emergency Child Care Services form. Once the form is completed, you will be contacted by the Department of Education as soon as possible to discuss childcare options.

    I need to visit farms regularly, how can I do that safely?

    Please follow public safety best practices and precautions outlined below:

    I need to go on a farm, how can I do that safely?
      Entering PREMISES Entering a FIELD
    1. Before going on a farm:

    Call first and arrange a visit

    Ask if anyone on the farm has been self-isolating due to travel or illness.

    Ask what extra steps have been taken in the barn with respect to cleaning and sanitation.

    Schedule your visit and ask that no one else be in the barn / farm area that you will be accessing.

    Call first and arrange a visit

     Ask if anyone on the farm has been self-isolating due to travel or illness.

    Schedule your visit and ask that no one else be in the field that you will be accessing

    2. While on a farm:

    Follow all standard biosecurity protocols for entering barn / farm areas.

    Keep visits as short as possible.

    Wear gloves and boot covers (as appropriate)

    Minimize touching as much as possible.

    Follow all standard biosecurity protocols for entering fields (i.e. disinfection).

    Wear gloves.

    Minimize touching as much as possible.

    When entering fields, you must not be in groups.  Ideally one person per field, however if the work requires more than one person, limit the group to four people from your company/organization and avoid car-pooling.  

    Do not ask a farmer or farm employee to accompany/assist you.

    3. When leaving a farm:

    Clean all equipment with disinfectant prior to putting it back in your vehicle.

    Remove your boot covers (while still wearing gloves) and put them in a garbage bag.

    Remove your gloves and put in garbage bag.

    Sanitize your hands before getting back in your vehicle.

    Clean all equipment with disinfectant prior to putting it back in your vehicle.

    Remove your gloves and put in garbage bag.

    Sanitize your hands before getting back in your vehicle.

    Recommended supplies:
    • Gloves
    • Boot covers
    • Garbage bags
    • Sanitizer / disinfectant
    • Gloves
    • Garbage bags
    • Sanitizer / disinfectant

    Business Risk Management Programs

    Can I still sign up for Agri-Insurance, Agri-Stability and other business risk management programs?

    Yes, these programs are essential business risk management programs and will be offered this year. However, due to COVID-19, we will be following public health guidelines for client safety and for the safety of our staff.

    AgriInsurance

    Sign-up for the AgriInsurance program will be a little different this year as we are going to be using electronic means of communication, such as phone, email, and text, to complete as many transactions as possible.  Instead of a drop-in visit, your agent will be in contact with you via a phone call or text. We will try to send information via email when possible.  
    In instances where something needs to be dropped off or picked up, we will follow the public health recommendations.

    Visit AgriInsurance (Production Insurance) for more information and to apply

    AgriStability

    The AgriStability program will continue. We are still processing and will continue to process files submitted to the program. We gladly receive information via email or mail. Our head office is closed to the public, but if you have information you need to drop off, we ask you to call the office and let us know when you are coming.  We have a safe drop off the procedure in place to accept documents. 

    Learn more at AgriStability Program

    AgriRecovery

    The surveys conducted for AgriReovery are completed online and will remain open into April. We are working closely with the industry groups to make sure we get all the information needed.

    Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Programs

    PROGRAM INTAKE NOTICE

    All of the Department's non-business risk management programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) agreement will open for application at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020.

    Please note that only projects that comply with current Public Health Directives related to COVID-19 will be eligible for funding.  

    The Agriculture Stewardship Program will only be accepting applications for the following Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) at this time: 

    • Nutrient Management Planning
    • Winter Cover Crop 
    • Spring Tillage of Forages
    • Fencing (only Fencing component is available of the Fencing and Livestock Stream Crossings BMP)
    • Integrated Pest Management - Data Based Decisions
    • Integrated Pest Management - Invertebrate Biological Control Agents

    Direct Marketers

    Are farmers markets considered essential ?

    Currently on PEI, Farmers’ Markets are essential services for online e-commerce's pickup and delivery only.

    Where can I find a list of on-line farmers markets?

    The Charlottetown Farmers Market is currently closed due to COVID-19, however you can still buy local from many of our vendors. Here is a list of vendors offering pick-up and/or delivery options at this time. This list will be updated regularly, so please check back often.

    The Summerside Farmers Market doors are closed due to COVID-19, but still have product to sell. Here is a list of vendors and producers who are ready and willing to sell their products.

    Livestock Industry

    Can farm animals get sick with COVID-19 either from humans or spread to humans?

    There is no current evidence to show that farms, animals, or pets can become sick with COVID-19 nor spread the virus to humans.  As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that people with COVID-19 symptoms, and those who are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, should avoid close contact with animals during their illness.

    I have an animal health emergency; can I still call my veterinarian?

    Veterinarians and many other agriculture service providers are considered essential services. They will be able to provide services, as long as public health protocols are followed.

    Mental Health

    Are you feeling the weight of social distance and an uncertain planting season? 

    Call the Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885 any time, any day of the year. Remember that the Farmer Assistance Program 1-800-736-8006 is available for farmers, farm families and farm employees.

    Organic Industry

    How will COVID-19 impact my organic audit and certification?

    In response to COVID-19, all stakeholders in the Canada Organic Regime (COR) are committed to working together to provide maximum possible flexibility in the implementation of COR, while maintaining integrity in the organic standard.

    While COVID-19 mitigation measures are in place, CFIA is allowing flexibility in Certifying Bodies (CBs) inspection frequency for renewal of organic certification.   Most CBs, including Eco-Cert and Pro-Cert have indicated that they will likely be requiring remote audits by teleconference to complement the inspection of documentation submitted. CB staff is working remotely, and all farmers are encouraged to communicate with their CB by email, if possible.  All required documentation required for audit is to be submitted electronically, if at all possible.

    Additional resources:

    Pesticide Applicator Certificate

    How will I purchase and apply the pesticides I need for the 2020 cropping season if my license has expired?

    Expired Class A Pesticide Certificates - If your document (Pesticide License) has an expiry date between January and July, 2020, pesticide applicators will be permitted to use their current numbers for the remainder of the year, or until such time as the Health Directive allows Department Staff to return to their offices. For further information, please contact Thane Clarke at (902) 368-5599 or e-mail at ktclarke@gov.pe.ca  

    PEI Analytical Laboratory

    Is the PEIAL still open for Feed, Special Products, Soil, Dairy and Water Testing services?

    Yes, the Lab has reduced the staff working in the facility and public access has been limited to 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. A reduced testing and sample receipt schedule has been established to enable the continuation of testing and to also respect the guidelines put in place by the CPHO. Please reference the table below for a summary of services and receiving schedule.

    Sample Type Sample Receipt Schedule Primary Contact
    Drinking Water

    Chemistry and bacteria analysis is being conducted.

    Samples are being received at the laboratory Monday – Friday, 10:00-3:00 

    902-620-3300
    Dairy

    All dairy sample types are being processed, which includes bulk tank, individual cow, and finished product samples.  

    Samples are being received at the laboratory Monday – Friday, 10:00-3:00 

    902-368-4482
    Feed and Special Products

    All animal feed and Special Product (manure and compost) sample types are being processed on a reduced schedule.  

    Samples are being received at the laboratory on Monday – Friday, 10:00-3:00.

    902-620-3300
    Soil & Soil Health

    All soil samples are being processed for nutrient analysis.

    Soil Health samples will be accepted beginning May 11, 2020.

    Samples are being received at the laboratory Monday – Friday, 10:00-3:00.

    902-620-3300
    Greenhouse & Seed Germination

    Greenhouse and Seed Germination sample types are being processed on a reduced schedule.

    Samples are being received at the laboratory on Monday – Friday, 10:00-3:00.

    902-620-3300

      Temporary Foreign Workers and Essential Workers from Out-of-Province

      What are recommended guidelines for farms employing temporary foreign workers (TFWs) and domestic workers?

      Download Guidance Document for Farms Employing Temporary Foreign Workers

      Who can I contact with questions about temporary foreign workers in agriculture?

      Questions and answers about temporary foreign workers can be found on the Government of Canada's COVID-19 Information for Industry page. If you have a question not answered on the FAQ page, email aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca

      Do essential workers coming to PEI have to self-isolate?

      Yes, if an farm employee comes to PEI from another province, the employee must self-isolate for 14 days. If the employee will be in PEI for less than 14 days, they must self-isolate for the duration of the stay. Essential workers are allowed to go to work during the self-isolation period. The employee must travel directly to and from work everyday, without any stops. When the employee is not at work or traveling to or from, the employee must stay inside the personal dwelling and property.  There must be a support person in place who can get groceries, medication or anything else needed by the employee during the 14 day isolation period. Learn more at Self-Isolation for Essential Workers

      I am a temporary foreign worker, where may I find more information about TFW and COVID-19?

      Resource materials have been developed for TFW to include: facts of COVID-19, isolation, high-risk and vulnerable populations, symptoms, handwashing, prevention, social distancing, mental health and reducing spread are included. Additionally local contact information for TFW for PEI contacts and resources are included.

      Government of Canada

      How is Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)  preserving integrity of Canada’s Food System

      The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's COVID-19 website contains notices to industry regarding actions to preserve the integrity of Canada's food safety system.

      What is the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association response to COVID-19?

      Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has resources on keeping pets and livestock safe. Livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area.

      What information is available from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council?

      The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council have created a dedicated COVID-19 webpage with the latest information, recommendations, employee management tips, and tools. These will help you respond to the pandemic and limit the impact and spread of COVID-19 within your business. Up to date information on temporary foreign workers and best practices for labour during times of disruption is also available.

      Get Accurate Information

      Make a Plan – Being Prepared is Good Business

      • Make sure you have a business continuity or emergency plan in place. 
      • Think about what you will do if a number of your employees become sick 
      • Support employees who may become ill. Talk to your staff about flexible hours or alternative work options should they need to stay at home for an extended period 
      • Support proper infection prevention and control measures in your business. Post hand washing signs, provide alcohol based hand rub to encourage frequent hand hygiene and ensure space/surface cleaning is completed. 
      • Avoid requesting doctors’ notes from employees who become sick or self-isolate

      Who can I contact for more information?

      Department of Agriculture and Land
      5th Floor, Jones Building
      11 Kent Street
      Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
      Telephone: (902) 368-4880
      Email:  agr-covid@gov.pe.ca

      Published date: 
      May 1, 2020
      Agriculture and Land

      General Inquiries

      Department of Agriculture and Land
      5th Floor, Jones Building
      11 Kent Street,
      P.O. Box 2000,
      Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8

      Phone: 902-368-4880
      Fax: 902-368-4857

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      Agriculture Information Desk
      1-866-PEI FARM (734-3276)

      DeptAgLand@gov.pe.ca