Delaware Senate confirms Collins to lead Aglands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees

DOVER, Del. (June 23, 2020) – Through a virtual confirmation hearing, the Delaware Senate confirmed and appointed Mark Collins to lead the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees.

“We want to take this time to personally to thank Chairman Bob Garey for his dedicated service to the Aglands Foundation over the past 25 years,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We are pleased with the Senate’s confirmation of Mark Collins and are looking forward to working with him as he steps into the chairmanship of the Foundation. As a fifth-generation family farmer, Mark has participated in the Aglands Preservation Program and understands the importance of preserving farmland so that we can continue to locally produce food.”

Mark Collins, Chairman, Delaware Aglands Foundation Board of Trustees:
As a life-long family farmer from Laurel, Mark Collins tills 1,300 acres. He and his wife, Dawn, produce watermelon, corn, soybeans, and poultry. Collins has been involved in the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program with land enrolled in an agricultural district for 25 years. He has had the development rights purchased by the state over the years, so that farmland can be preserved for the next generation at DMC Farms. A graduate of the University of Delaware, Collins earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering. He has been instrumental in the Laurel Auction Market and the Mar-Del Watermelon Association, having served as a board member and president. He has served as an Executive Committee Member and Executive Council Member of the National Watermelon Association. Collins was recognized by the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in March 2019 with the Distinguished Alumni Aware for his outstanding career accomplishments, service, and leadership to the agricultural profession and community.

The original farmland preservation law was passed in 1991, which established the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation Board of Trustees and county level advisory boards. The first funding was received in FY1996, part of the 21st Century Fund.

Collins is only the third chair of the Board of Trustees in the history of the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation. His appointment will begin on July 1, 2020.

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Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, 302-698-4542, stacey.hofmann@delaware.gov


Delaware Issues Guidance To Help U-Pick Farms Open For The Season

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) issued guidance today to help local U-Pick farms safely open to the public for the season. This guidance will help farm staff and visitors to U-Pick farm operations participate in a safe manner to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Each year when fresh Delaware grown strawberries come into season, many of our family farms begin to open their U-Pick operations to the public. These farms provide residents an opportunity to actively connect with where their food is grown,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “With the public’s concern about finding food during the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe farms will see increased U-Pick participation as households look to freeze, can, and put up food to enjoy the rest of the year.”

Late spring through the fall is a time when Delaware’s U-Pick farm operations open to allow residents and visitors to pick their own strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins, live Christmas trees and more. DDA recommends that residents call ahead to their local farm to confirm that they are offering U-Pick this season and to set up an appointment to go to the farm. Each farm needs to confirm there is adequate space in the field for social distancing at any given time.

All customers 13 years and older are required to wear face coverings or they will be denied entry. Face coverings are recommended for children ages 2-12 visiting the farm with their families. Anyone coming to the farm to pick produce will be required to sanitize their hands before and after going into the field. Picking containers from home will not be permitted.

If you are sick with any of the following symptoms, stay home: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle fatigue, chills, shaking with chills, loss of smell or taste. Other symptoms such as headache or digestive symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or lack of appetite) are potential symptoms related to COVID-19 and may prompt further screening, action or investigation.

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have symptoms of illness, you may not go out in public. Older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions – including serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised, including through cancer treatment – may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We want to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our community, so if you are sick or have been exposed or are at higher risk for severe illness – stay home, do not go visit U-Pick farm.

More information regarding the guidance for Delaware U-Pick farm operations during COVID-19 can be found at https://de.gov/buylocal.

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Governor Carney Partners with Health Providers and Sussex Employers on Community Testing Sites, Outreach, Education

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Westside Family Healthcare, local hospital systems, poultry industry employers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and trusted community partners to stand up community testing sites in Sussex County, and increase outreach and distribution of educational materials about COVID-19 in southern Delaware.

“We’ve seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases in communities across Sussex County,” said Governor John Carney. “This new testing program is designed to save lives. Over the next week, we will be partnering with local hospitals, the Delaware Division of Public Health, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, and the Delaware Department of Agriculture, and others to offer free, rapid coronavirus testing at community testing sites in Sussex County. As the largest employers in Sussex County, we are partnering with the poultry industry to ensure that workers and their families get all of the information they need to be safe and healthy.”

The community testing plan is a three-pronged effort. It includes testing through the use of rapid test kits and ensuring access to care; guidance on isolation and assistance when it is not possible to isolate safely; and education and outreach through the assistance of trusted community partners. Individuals will receive “care kits” with essential materials including hand sanitizer, bandanas, thermometers, and educational materials. Educational materials are being translated into Spanish and Haitian Creole to reach those who do not read English as their first language. These tests are not mandatory.

“We are grateful for the partnership of everyone involved in bringing this massive effort together,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “In addition to testing sites at poultry plants, there will also be community testing sites, which we expect will reach workers in other industries and their families. We believe this community-based testing strategy will be critical in identifying the extent of the spread of COVID-19 and of mitigating it, by providing guidance and support for those with positive test results and educational materials for everyone tested.”

“The efforts of all these partners to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our rural communities here in Sussex County is a testament to working towards a common goal to re-open our state. From the farmers to the workers in the plants to employees in agribusinesses, our workforce is the backbone that makes agriculture so successful in Delaware,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We want to ensure that every employee gets the care they need, and to make sure if a staff member does have COVID-19 that we can stop it from spreading to others. We appreciate the efforts that the poultry companies are taking to protect their employees, including implementing physical barriers and social distancing protocols, daily health screenings, and now on-site testing.”

Partners in the community testing efforts include

  • Bayhealth
  • Beebe Healthcare
  • ChristianaCare 
  • Nanticoke Health Services
  • Westside Family Healthcare
  • Allen Harim
  • Mountaire Farms
  • Perdue Farms
  • Local Community Partners and Organizations
  • Municipal and County Government
  • Delaware Technical Community College Georgetown
  • Community Health Centers and Providers 

Governor Carney, DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, and DEMA Director A.J. Schall will discuss the community testing and outreach partnership during their 1:45 p.m. press briefing on Friday.

Delawareans with questions about COVID-19, related to medical or social service needs, should call 2-1-1; or 7-1-1 for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Questions may also be submitted by email at DPHCall@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, visit: de.gov/coronavirus.      

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Delaware Secretary of Agriculture on Importance of Maintaining Food Supply Chain During State of Emergency

DOVER (March 18, 2020) – Maintaining the supply of food and fiber for our citizens, especially during times of an emergency, is of paramount importance. Our poultry industry plays a critical role in feeding our citizens and supplying an abundant, healthy source of protein.

“It is extremely important that the entire vertically integrated chain of poultry production remain functioning at full capacity and that everyone in that chain is doing their part to assure chicken is available for purchase,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “Of course, one vital part of that chain is the processing of the birds at our poultry processing plants. Workers are commended for what they do to feed our citizens and are encouraged to give extraordinary effort in these challenging times. We have the most abundant, affordable, and safest food supply in the world, due to the invaluable contributions of everyone involved in food production Their participation in feeding Delaware and America is essential.”

Agriculture and food production are essential industries that provide food and fiber for all and play a critical role in the state’s economy.

“During this difficult time, I want to offer encouragement to all our family farmers, producers, agribusinesses, wholesalers, distributors, consumers and the many other members of Delaware’s food supply chain in the state who are working hard to continue business as usual with minimal interruptions.”

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Delaware agriculture critical to supplying consumers with food during COVID-19 outbreak

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Department of Agriculture continues to provide services to the public and industry to ensure that our food supply remains safe and plentiful for consumers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

“As Delaware’s number one industry, family farms are crucial to supplying a variety of food from poultry and meats, fruits and vegetables, and many value-added products,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We take the health and safety of our employees seriously, but we realize that even during the outbreak, that we have a duty to our constituents. The Department will remain open, but we will be making changes to minimize risk to our employees.”

Farmers will be active over the next few months as planting season is underway. Secretary Scuse has asked for flexibility from the public as guidance surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change. Members of the public are encouraged to call ahead before coming to the Department. Non-essential meetings are being canceled or moved to online/teleconference to enable social distancing. The following changes to programs or processes are in effect:

• Agriculture Compliance Lab: Samples must be dropped off in the entrance of the lab.
• Communications and Marketing: The informational grant workshop scheduled for March 24 is canceled. If you have questions, please contact Jo-Ann Walston at 302-698-4592 or email joann.walston@delaware.gov. Guidance is being developed for farmers’ markets and on-farm markets.
• Delaware Standardbred Breeders’ Fund: Delaware Standardbred Breeder’s Fund Races are not scheduled until June at Harrington. Yearling and 2-year old payments due on May 15th and should be mailed or paid online by credit card.
• Food Products Inspection: The Produce Safety Alliance training scheduled for March 24 has been postponed. The On-Farm Entrepreneurs Food Safety Training with University of Delaware Extension has been postponed. Dates will be announced in the future. There are no changes currently for customer contact information.
• Delaware Forest Service: Until further notice, the Redden Lodge is closed. All state forest campsites are closed, and no gatherings of more than 25 people are permitted on state forest property. All Arbor Day events are canceled.
• Delaware Harness Racing Commission: Until further notice, casinos and racetracks in Delaware are closed. The Delaware Harness Racing Commission (DHRC) has cancelled our monthly meetings for March and April and will provide any needed public information electronically.
• Aglands Planning and Preservation: The March 18 Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation meeting will be conducted virtually.
• Nutrient Management: Farm visits will be limited to reduce the chance of spreading coronavirus.
• Pesticide Management: All pesticide testing has been canceled until further notice. Any insect samples can be left at the front desk along with your contact information.
• Plant Industries: All seed for testing should be placed in the large mailbox outside the building marked Seed Lab. Hemp Producer applications should be emailed, and changes are coming to the physical license.
• Poultry and Animal Health: Samples may be brought to the front lobby for submission. No one will be able to walk samples back to the labs.
• Thoroughbred Racing Commission: Until further notice, casinos and racetracks in Delaware are closed. The stable has been opened for training.
• Weights and Measures: Complaints should be submitted using the online complaint form at https://agriculture.delaware.gov/weights-measures/.

For more updated information related to the Department of Agriculture and COVID-19, refer to https://agriculture.delaware.gov/news. For the latest information related to Delaware’s response to COVID-19, visit https://de.gov/coronavirus.

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