We begin a new week where we ended the last week, no news on when retail sales can begin in Michigan. We have had Senator Daley and Victory working on letters to the Governor and MDARD director on our behalf, while Representatives Alexander and VanSingel have both sent letters to the Governor asking for her to reconsider garden centers as essential. Now is the time to contact your Senator or Representative and ask them to advocate for the greenhouse industry in a letter or email to the Governor and MDARD director. If you have not contacted MDARD on this, you still can at MDARDcovidemail@example.com . Tell the department that garden centers should be essential so people can be growing their own food and this could be the largest number of people in history having a garden and being self-sufficient.
Make sure you sign up for the Paycheck Protection Program as soon as you can. Reach out to your lender to see if they are participating and get your application in. This is an opportunity to receive a forgivable loan for 250% of your average monthly payroll, utilities, rent or payment, and employee benefit packages, if you keep your people employed. For more information go to sbam.org and click on Paycheck Protection Plan details for an in-depth summary of this program or go to mipaycheckprotection.com for answers about the program – there is even a calculator to help put together everything that is eligible for this loan.
I have sent out the potential loss information I have received from people around the state to Senator Stabenow’s staff for the $9.5 billion fund for specialty crop losses. This is still in the development stage and we want to make sure that greenhouses are considered for repayment of the losses that could occur during this crisis. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to help support our industry.
Stay well, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face. Goeff
Today the Paycheck Protection Program goes live (sort of). Many banks are accepting SBA loan applications starting today, but it has started out slow. Many are now saying it will be Monday before they are ready. Call your bank today to see if they are accepting applications and get on the schedule to work with your lender. This is a first come first serve program because they won’t have enough money for every business in the nation. If it is not available today at your bank, it will be Monday so be ready. If you have any questions go to the SBAM website (SBAM.org) where they have in depth answers to most questions.
I will be reaching out to Senators and Representatives today to encourage them to contact the Governor about garden centers and their being essential. I am a little concerned that the Governor opened the door for a longer period of Stay Home – Stay Safe yesterday in her town hall meeting. We need everyone to contact your Senators and State Representatives for support on getting garden centers operating, at least in a reduced capacity in the extension if it comes.
I hope everyone has a safe and healthy weekend. Follow the guidelines and get outside for a walk or just spend a few minutes in the sunshine. I will send out any new information I hear, so stay tuned.
No news from MDARD or the Governor’s office today, but we have legislators stepping up to help us get the word to the Governor about garden centers being essential. Representative Scott Vansingel (100th district, Grant) wrote a very good very good letter you can pull up on Facebook. Senator Victory, Senator Daley, Senator Bumstead and Representative Alexander have all reached out to me to see how they can help with the issue. I have asked for them to all write a letter to the Governor and speak to her Liaison about garden centers. Senator Daley and Representative Alexander both chair Agriculture in their respective chambers, so they will be a big help while Senator Victory has the largest concentration of greenhouses in his district. Please reach out to these legislators and thank them for their work on our behalf.
I want to say thank you to everyone who has emailed or called me with ideas or questions about everything going on and shared their projected losses if the garden centers can’t open soon. Also thanks for sharing MGGC briefings and information around the state so we can keep everyone up to speed as we work together to keep our industry strong.
The Paycheck Protection Program goes live April 3, 2020.
Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
The application for borrowers can be found HERE (Please note that is processed through your local SBA lender. We recommend checking with your current financial institution first.
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.
During this time of uncertainty, I hope everyone is well both physically and mentally. I have been working from home after being banished from the office until this COVID-19 issue is done and things return to normal. Cindy and I continue to keep everyone up to speed on developing items and events. Watch your email for (almost) daily updates from MGGC.
MDARD has sent me the following on garden centers: “No person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations except to the extent that its workers are necessary to sustain and protect life, regardless of whether the business or operation is open to the public.” The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has deemed nurseries and greenhouses to be essential to the point of growing plants, however the sale of plants to public is not allowed. If selling wholesale, this is permissible.
I have asked for them to reconsider with a letter to the Director (available at www.MGGC.org.) showing we would be one of the few states who don’t list garden centers as essential, but they have not changed their stance. I will keep in touch with the department to see if they will reconsider.
I talked to Senator Stabenow’s staff on Friday about producer assistance for specialty crops in the CARES bill that had just been passed. They are trying to identify and quantify projected losses and impacts to determine how to make $9.5 Billion available for COVID-19 relief for producers. We will try to put some numbers together for them, if you have any to share, please email me at email@example.com.
This week there are several opportunities to learn what assistance is available to help your business with the COVID-19 crisis. On Tuesday there is a webinar with a deep dive on the CARES Act and what it means to you in these troubling times. If you had tried to sign up and it said it was full, try again as they have been able to open it to 500 more participants. Also, every day at 3 pm SBAM has a live stream discussion on daily changes and questions posed by members on Facebook and Zoom. Check out their website for more information and COVID-19 resources at www.SBAM.org.
We are all trying to make sense of everything going on in the country and in our state in these times of turmoil, as well as attempting to keep our businesses afloat and our families and employees safe and secure. We will continue to bring you updates as we receive them to keep you informed in real time, so you can make sound decisions about your business and health.
I just got off the phone with MDARD about garden centers and they have decided that garden centers are not deemed to be essential businesses during the COVID-19 shutdown. I have asked for them to reconsider since the home supply stores are not affected by the order. They will discuss it more but for now the order is garden centers must remain closed.
MDARD has confirmed that greenhouses ARE considered essential businesses in the state of Michigan.
See MDARD’s Food Ag Essential Document with highlighted the section greenhouses fall under. It states: Farm workers and support service workers including those who plant, grow, and harvest agricultural commodities; commodity inspections; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs.
The department suggests for you to give each employee designated as essential a letter on your letterhead identifying them as such for their travel to and from work. You should reference the Governor’s Executive Order #2020-21 in the letter. They also felt it may be a good idea to reach out to law enforcement to let them know you have employees who will be traveling to and from work on a regular basis. The department was asked to supply a template for the letter and we will share this as soon as we receive it.
Garden Centers/retail locations are yet to be determined as essential businesses.
This is still all very fluid and changing hourly so we will continue to send out information as we receive it to our members. If you have any questions please reach out to us anytime.