Yesterday there was a conference call with MDARD and the Director about questions and changes to the COVID-19 directives. The issue of garden centers and being able to sell product was brought up. I brought up the challenges of having such a perishable product and why we were not using the same essential list as other states such as New York, North Carolina or Georgia who list garden centers as essential. The Director said they are taking another look at the issue and working with the Governor to come up with a response. He wanted us to reach out to the Governor with our request to have garden centers listed as essential. I sent a copy of the letter I had sent the MDARD Director last Friday to the governor early Tuesday afternoon to ask for a reconsideration of the closing decision and am waiting for the response. MDARD is asking all questions and requests go through their new email for COVID-19 at MDARD.COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org and look for FAQ answers at mi.gov/coronavirus.
Here is the letter I forwarded to the MDARD Director and Governor.
The payroll protection part of the CARES act is going through changes daily so go to the SBAM website SBAM.org for up to the minute information on this critical piece of the act. They have a great COVID-19 page with FAQ’s and information on financial assistance that is available for you and your employees.
As I had mentioned in my last update Senator Stabenow’s office has reached out to us for information to help shape the Producer Assistance for Specialty Crops part of the CARES act. They have allotted $9.5 Billion for COVID-19 relief and are looking for ways to make sure greenhouses are part of this. The Senators’ office is looking for any financial losses you may have occurred or may occur during this crisis if this continues much longer. Thanks to the folks that have sent me info so far but I would like to forward more to the Senator to show we need to be part of the specialty crop grant process.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out with concerns or good news stories about the industry as we try to navigate these untested waters. I have not heard if the Governor has decided to extend the stay at home rule but will keep you informed as soon as I hear anything. We need to keep emailing and contacting the Governor and MDARD Director to make sure they understand how important greenhouses and garden centers are to the Michigan residents physical and mental health.
Blessings for you, your family and your employees during these difficult times.