New Program Part of Broader Effort to Transform Food System, Create Jobs
JUNE 17, 2022— Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in assistance for specialty crop producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. USDA’s new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program will help to offset costs for specialty crop producers to comply with regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements, which is part of USDA’s broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.
Specialty crop operations can apply for assistance for eligible expenses related to a 2022 food safety certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. USDA is delivering FSCSC to provide critical assistance for specialty crop operations, with an emphasis on equity in program delivery while building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Vilsack made the announcement from Hollis, N.H., where he toured a local, family-owned farm and highlighted USDA’s efforts to help reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to cut regulatory costs and increase market opportunities for farmers in New Hampshire and across the nation.
“The ongoing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created substantial financial challenges for small and very small producers to meet regulatory requirements and access additional markets,” Vilsack said. “These challenges were particularly acute for specialty crop producers, many of whom needed to quickly and completely pivot their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets, like restaurants and food service. As we build back better, our food systems must be both more inclusive and more competitive. By helping mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair, transparent food systems rooted in local and regional production and provide small-scale producers a real opportunity to bring home a greater share of the food dollar and help create jobs.”
FSCSC will assist specialty crop operations that incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and related expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 and 2023. For each year, FSCSC covers a percentage of the specialty crop operation’s cost of obtaining or renewing their certification, as well as a portion of their related expenses.
To be eligible for FSCSC, the applicant must be a specialty crop operation; meet the definition of a small business or very small business; and have paid eligible expenses related to the 2022 (issued on or after June 21, 2022) or 2023 certification.
Specialty crop operations may receive assistance for the following costs:
· Developing a food safety plan for first-time food safety certification.
· Maintaining or updating an existing food safety plan.
· Food safety certification.
· Certification upload fees.
· Microbiological testing for products, soil amendments and water.
FSCSC payments are calculated separately for each category of eligible costs. A higher payment rate has been set for socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers. Details about the payment rates and limitations can be found at farmers.gov/food-safety.
Applying for Assistance
The FSCSC application period for 2022 is June 27, 2022, through January 31, 2023, and the application period for 2023 will be announced at a later date. FSA will issue payments at the time of application approval for 2022 and after the application period ends for 2023. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated.
Interested specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program (FSCSC) application. The application, along with other required documents, can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery or via electronic means. Producers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find their local FSA office. Specialty crop producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to assist.
Producers can visit farmers.gov/food-safety for additional program details, eligibility information and forms needed to apply.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.
Vaccine to be available in all 100 counties
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution for children under 5 years old and to ensure families across the state have the information they need to access vaccines for their young children. Children are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus just like everyone else.
A vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years could be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as soon as this weekend, and vaccinations in North Carolina could begin the week of June 20.
"We have never stopped working to ensure that vaccines are fast, fair and everywhere for North Carolinians," said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. "It is exciting that our best tool against COVID-19 – safe and effective vaccines – could soon be available to our youngest North Carolinians, and because of our preparation, on day one in all 100 counties."
NCDHHS’ strategy for equitable vaccine distribution ensures vaccines will be available in all 100 North Carolina counties when the vaccine is authorized and recommended. All local health departments will receive vaccine, and more than 300 pediatric offices in North Carolina have enrolled to provide the vaccine and will be receiving shipments from NCDHHS over the next two weeks. Vaccine will also be available in family medicine offices. In addition, vaccines will be available in pharmacies for children 3 years and older.
Statewide communication efforts are also underway to provide families with information about COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5. NCDHHS is prepared to:
For more information about how vaccines for children work and where you can find a vaccination appointment nearby, visit MySpot.nc.gov. The North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center can also help you make an appointment by calling 888-675-4567. The help center is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends. Parents and guardians with questions about COVID-19 vaccines can also talk with their child's health care provider.
NCDHHS se prepara para la distribución de vacunas para
niños menores de 5 años
Las vacunas estarán disponibles en todos los 100 condados
El Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Carolina del Norte se está preparando para la distribución de la vacuna contra el COVID-19 para niños menores de 5 años y para garantizar que las familias de todo el estado tengan la información que necesitan para acceder a las vacunas para sus niños pequeños. Los niños son vulnerables al virus COVID-19, igual que todos los demás.
La Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos (FDA) podría autorizar una vacuna para niños de seis meses a cinco años y los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) la recomendarían tan pronto como este fin de semana, y la vacunación en Carolina del Norte podría comenzar la semana del 20 de junio.
"Nunca hemos dejado de trabajar para garantizar que las vacunas se distribuyan de manera rápida, justa y que estén en todas partes para los habitantes de Carolina del Norte", dijo el secretario del NCDHHS, Kody H. Kinsley. "Es emocionante que nuestra mejor herramienta contra el COVID-19, las vacunas que son seguras y efectivas, pronto puedan estar disponibles para nuestros habitantes más pequeños de Carolina del Norte y, gracias a nuestra preparación, estarán disponibles el primer día en los 100 condados".
La estrategia del NCDHHS para la distribución equitativa de las vacunas garantiza que la vacuna estará disponible en los 100 condados de Carolina del Norte cuando esté autorizada y recomendada. Todos los departamentos de salud locales recibirán la vacuna y más de 300 consultorios pediátricos en Carolina del Norte se han inscrito para proporcionar la vacuna y recibirán envíos del NCDHHS durante las próximas dos semanas. La vacuna también estará disponible en los consultorios de medicina familiar. Además, la vacuna estará disponible en las farmacias para niños de 3 años o más.
También se están realizando esfuerzos de comunicación en todo el estado para brindar a las familias información sobre las vacunas contra el COVID-19 para niños menores de 5 años. NCDHHS está preparado para:
Para obtener más información sobre cómo funcionan las vacunas para niños y dónde puede encontrar una cita de vacunación cercana, visite Vacunate.nc.gov. El Centro de Ayuda para la Vacunación contra el COVID-19 de Carolina del Norte también puede ayudarle a programar una cita llamando al 888-675-4567. El Centro de Ayuda está abierto de 7 a.m. a 7 p.m. de lunes a viernes y de 8 a.m. a 4 p.m. en los fines de semana. Los padres y tutores que tengan preguntas sobre las vacunas contra el COVID-19 también pueden hablar con el proveedor de atención médica de sus hijos.
As spring fire season enters its third month, the USDA Forest Service and N.C. Forest Service are reminding the public to keep drones away from wildfires. Flying drones or unmanned aircraft systems near wildfire activity is not only extremely dangerous, but illegal.
“Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of forest service pilots and ground crews and interferes with firefighting efforts,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It’s important to remember that if you fly, we can’t.”
Firefighters use a variety of tactics when containing and suppressing wildfires from the air and on the ground. Unauthorized drone flights hinder all of them. Helicopters, planes and other aircraft that deliver hundreds of gallons of water and fire retardant to a burn site are already flying low, with minimal visibility and under smoky and windy conditions. When drones and firefighting aircraft share the same airspace, the risk of a midair collision increases.
To avoid the threat of midair collisions, all aerial wildfire operations are suspended when a drone is present, thus delaying wildfire suppression response and allowing the wildfire to grow larger. “The longer an uncontained wildfire burns, the greater the risk for loss of life to residents and firefighters, property and valuable resources and increased cost,” said State Forester David Lane. “There’s also the possibility of a drone malfunctioning while in flight, only to fall onto responders and members of the public below, potentially injuring them.”
According to the USDA Forest Service, 172 drone incursions took place between the years of 2015 and 2020. Since there is no centralized system to report these situations, the actual number is believed to be much higher.
The Federal Aviation Administration implements a temporary flight restriction around wildfires to protect aircraft engaged in firefighting operations. Individuals in violation of this law will be subject to civil penalties, including fines up to $25,000 and criminal prosecution.
It’s important to know the rules and remember if you fly, we can’t. To learn more about the unauthorized use of drones, go to www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/uas/if-you-fly.
Children ages 5 to 11 years old can receive a COVID-19 booster five months after the date of their most recent Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose.
“Summer brings vacations, play dates and family gatherings, and it’s important for everyone to stay up to date on their vaccines,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Children ages 5 to 11 can now have the extra protection of a booster dose, which significantly increases protection against serious illness, hospitalization, death and long-term complications from COVID-19.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s authorization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that children ages 5 to 11 get boosted comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again across North Carolina.
Long-term COVID-19 symptoms can include multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, which can cause inflammation in different parts of the body, as well as coughing, body aches, shortness of breath, headaches, brain fog, difficulty sleeping and more. It may also cause lasting damage to the heart, kidneys or other organs.
“Children are vulnerable to the virus and long-term complications just like everyone else,” said NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson. “Cases that start with mild symptoms can progress quickly, and even mild cases can have symptoms that last for several weeks or months.”
During the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were seven times less likely to be hospitalized and 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated.
“Prevention is the best treatment to protect against COVID-19,” said Secretary Kinsley. “Make sure you and your entire family are up to date on your vaccines, including boosters when eligible.”
Booster shots are available anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available and are free regardless of insurance or immigration status. The Pfizer booster is the only brand currently available to children ages 5 to 11. Call ahead to make sure the location you choose has the age-appropriate Pfizer vaccine available.
North Carolina’s actions are based on recommendations from the FDA, CDC and evaluation by NCDHHS. Read the CDC’s full statement here.
For more information about how vaccines for children work and where you can find a vaccine or booster appointment nearby, visit MySpot.nc.gov. The North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center can also help you make an appointment by calling 888-675-4567. The help center is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends.
Los niños de 5 a 11 años ya pueden recibir una dosis de refuerzo contra el COVID-19 cinco meses después de la fecha de su dosis más reciente de la vacuna de Pfizer contra el COVID-19.
“El verano trae vacaciones, oportunidades para que los niños se junten para jugar y reuniones familiares, y es importante que todos se mantengan al día con sus vacunas”, dijo el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Carolina del Norte, Kody H. Kinsley. “Los niños de 5 a 11 años ahora pueden tener la protección adicional de una dosis de refuerzo, que aumenta significativamente la protección contra enfermedades graves, hospitalización, muerte y complicaciones a largo plazo causadas por el COVID-19”.
La autorización de la Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos (FDA, por sus siglas en inglés) y la recomendación de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC, por sus siglas en inglés) de que los niños de 5 a 11 años reciban la dosis de refuerzo se publicó justo cuando los casos de COVID-19 están aumentando nuevamente en Carolina del Norte.
Los síntomas a largo plazo de COVID-19 pueden incluir el síndrome inflamatorio multisistémico en niños, o MIS-C, que puede causar inflamación en diferentes partes del cuerpo, así como tos, dolores corporales, dificultad para respirar, dolores de cabeza, confusión mental, dificultad para dormir y más. También puede causar daños duraderos al corazón, los riñones y otros órganos.
“Los niños son vulnerables al virus y a las complicaciones a largo plazo, al igual que todos los demás”, dijo la Dra. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, directora de Salud Estatal y directora médica del NCDHHS, “Los casos que comienzan con síntomas leves pueden progresar rápidamente e incluso los casos leves pueden llegar a tener síntomas que duren varias semanas o meses”.
Durante el reciente aumento en casos debido a la variante Ómicron, las personas que recibieron la dosis de refuerzo tenían siete veces menos probabilidades de ser hospitalizados y 21 veces menos probabilidades de morir a causa del COVID-19, en comparación a los que no estaban vacunados.
“La prevención es el mejor tratamiento para protegerse contra el COVID-19”, dijo el secretario Kinsley. “Asegúrese de que usted y toda su familia estén al día con sus vacunas, incluyendo las dosis de refuerzos cuando sean elegibles”.
Las dosis de refuerzo son gratuitas y están disponibles en cualquier lugar donde las vacunas contra el COVID-19 estén disponibles, independientemente del seguro médico o el estatus migratorio. La dosis de refuerzo de Pfizer es la única marca disponible actualmente para los niños de 5 a 11 años. Llame con anticipación para asegurarse de que el lugar que elija tenga disponible la vacuna de Pfizer adecuada para la edad.
Las acciones de Carolina del Norte se basan en las recomendaciones de la FDA, los CDC y la evaluación del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Carolina del Norte. Lea la declaración completa de los CDC aquí (en inglés).
Para obtener más información sobre cómo funcionan las vacunas para niños y dónde puede encontrar una cita cercana para recibir las vacunas o las dosis de refuerzos, visite Vacunate.nc.gov. El Centro de Ayuda para la Vacunación contra el COVID-19 de Carolina del Norte también puede ayudarle a hacer una cita llamando al 888-675-4567. El Centro de Ayuda está abierto de 7 am a 7 pm de lunes a viernes y de 8 am a 4 pm los fines de semana.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding agricultural producers that Monday, February 28th, is the deadline to apply for the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, or NAP.
NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insured crops impacted by natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses, or prevents crop planting.
Commercially produced crops and agricultural commodities for which crop insurance is not available are generally eligible for NAP. Eligible crops with a coverage deadline of February 28th include most annual fruit and vegetable crops, such as sweet corn, tomatoes, squash, and melons. February 28th is also the deadline to apply for coverage on hemp.
Eligible causes of loss include drought, freeze, hail, excessive moisture, excessive wind or hurricanes, earthquake, flood. These events must occur during the NAP policy coverage period, before or during harvest, and the disaster must directly affect the eligible crop.
NAP Service fees can be waived for beginning, qualifying veteran, female, minority, and limited resource farmers. These farmers can also receive a 50 percent reduction in the premium.
For more information on the NAP program or to apply, contact your local FSA county office in Murphy, at (828) 837-2721, extension 2.
National Forests in North Carolina, in collaboration with AmeriCorps, is excited to announce that it is hiring for two full-time temporary VISTA positions for the Appalachian and Cheoah-Tusquitee Ranger Districts.
With support of the United States Forest Service Southern Region Volunteers & Service Programs, VISTAs will further partnership and resource development opportunities. Additionally, VISTAs will assist with the recruitment and management of volunteers and service participants as well as support integrative projects for different program areas (recreation, biology, fire, archeology, etc.) in their assigned national forests. VISTAs engage the community they serve to generate interest and commitment to impact-driven activities. These positions stand to benefit local communities by increasing sustainable recreation, workforce developments and resource development.
Current AmeriCorps VISTA member Lindsey Nelson says, “This position has given me the tools and experience needed to move forward with my career while providing opportunities to engage in hands-on work at some of the most beautiful sites in western North Carolina."
Successful applicants will receive a non-compete hiring authority for Forest Service positions, a benefit which expedites the hiring process by allowing qualified candidates to be placed into positions following the completion of their service. In addition to the direct hiring authority, VISTAs will receive a living allowance, training, professional development funds, a relocation allowance, health care benefits and childcare assistance for those who are eligible. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in joining the Forest Service or working in natural resource management.
Interested applicants can apply online for the Appalachian and Cheoah-Tusquitee positions. The priority application deadline is February 11, 2022. The positions will begin April 11, 2022. VISTAs will have the option to serve one to two years. Applicants must be 18 years or older. For more information, please contact Patricia Silva at 304-860-0371 or email@example.com.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today updated the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard to better show how many people in North Carolina are up to date with current COVID-19 vaccination recommendations.
NCDHHS has added state-level and county metrics on people who are vaccinated with at least one booster/additional dose. The "Fully Vaccinated" metric is now "Vaccinated with Two Doses or One Dose J&J."
The dashboard shows the percent of people who have: received at least one or two doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccination series (Pfizer and Moderna); one dose of a one-dose series (Johnson & Johnson); and, now, vaccinated individuals who have received at least one booster/additional dose.
The booster/additional dose data will be shown by population (5+, 12+, 18+ and 65+) to reflect the percent of the vaccinated population who is eligible and has received at least one additional/booster dose. The county map on the "Summary Data" tab now allows users to view county-level data on total booster/additional doses administered.
These additional data will help NCDHHS provide better transparency for vaccinations and additional and booster doses administered across the state.
North Carolinians can go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccine location near them. The North Carolina Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567 can also help you make an appointment. It is open 7 a.m.–7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on weekends.
The FDA now authorizes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose after five months. This announcement from federal agencies comes just three days after the announcement of a shortened wait time for a booster from six months to five months for individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine.
Current recommendation for COVID-19 boosters is:
Adults may receive any brand of the COVID-19 vaccine for their booster, while children 12 to 17 can only receive Pfizer. NCDHHS encourages individuals to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if they have questions about what booster is right for them.
Boosters are available anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available. People do not need a doctor's note to get a booster shot. Individuals who want to receive a booster will need to know the dates of any past COVID-19 vaccinations as well as the vaccine brand they originally received. Paper vaccination cards are helpful but may not be necessary. At-home vaccination and free transportation may be available.
More information about COVID-19 vaccine boosters is available on NCDHHS’s website.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina or to find a vaccine location, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center for free at 888-675-4567.
El tiempo de espera para recibir la dosis de refuerzo de