Delaware Agriculture Secretary Urges Farms to Participate in USDA Agricultural Labor Survey

DOVER, Del. (September 15, 2021) — Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse urges producers across Delaware to participate in USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) upcoming Agricultural Labor Survey scheduled for release in mid-October. The survey will collect information about hired labor from nearly 90 Delaware farmers.

“Over the past year, we have seen a major change in labor policies that will impact agricultural producers who hire farm labor,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “I realize that this is a hectic time for our farmers, but the best way for farmers to be heard and shape future policy is to participate in these surveys.”

USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

The survey asks participants to answer various questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including the total number of hired farmworkers, the total hours worked, and total base and gross wages paid for the weeks of July 11-17 and October 10-16. To save time and money for producers, participants can securely respond to the survey at agcounts.usda.gov instead of mailing the forms back.

“By asking about two separate time periods each time we collect data during the year, we can publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said King Whetstone, Director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Northeastern Regional Field Office. “This approach reduces the number of times we survey farm businesses while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available.”

As with all NASS surveys, the results of this survey will be available in aggregate form, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results from more than 2,000 farmers and ranchers across the 11-state Northeastern region in the November 24 Farm Labor report.

All previous Farm Labor publications are available online at https://usda.library.cornell.edu/concern/publications/x920fw89s. For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at 1-800-498-1518.

###


Free school meals to continue in upcoming academic year

Delaware K-12 schools will have the option to continue offering free nutritious school meals during the 2021-2022 school year, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) announced today.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) released a group of waivers and eligibility guidelines allowing schools to offer meals without determining eligibility based on the student’s household income.

 

Participating schools can operate under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and will receive a higher federal reimbursement rate per meal.

 

Schools that elect not to serve free meals through the SSO will determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) using federal income guidelines. The annually updated income eligibility guidelines for the 2021-22 school year have been released by the USDA.

 

The new eligibility guidelines went into effect July 1, 2021 and allow schools and other institutions and facilities to determine eligibility for the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.

 

To apply, households already receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application if not notified of their automatic eligibility by the school. Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application. Households should contact the school nutrition program of the district or school where their child(ren) attends school for further information.

 

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

 

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

 

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

                  Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

                  1400 Independence Avenue, SW

                  Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email: program.intake@usda.gov.

 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


Delaware SNAP to Issue Additional Emergency Benefits Starting June 30

Existing clients may receive additional benefits to support food needs

NEW CASTLE (June 28, 2020) – Emergency benefits will be issued to participants of Delaware’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for June as part of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.

En Espanol.

Under this federal act signed into law March 18, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) will issue emergency benefits to any household not already receiving the maximum monthly SNAP benefit. SNAP households that already receive the maximum monthly benefit will not receive additional funds.

The emergency benefits will be released Tuesday evening, June 30, and will automatically load to recipients’ SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards for use starting Wednesday, July 1. The emergency benefits will allow the household’s monthly allotment to increase to the maximum amount for a household of that size, as follows:

 

Number in SNAP
Household
Maximum Benefit Amount
1 $194
2 $355
3 $509
4 $646
5 $768
6 $921
7 $1,018
8 $1,164
Each additional person $146

 

SNAP households will receive their regular June benefits on their usual issuance dates.

Many SNAP households also received emergency benefits in March, April and May. “We are grateful that this additional assistance continues to be available to Delaware families who are struggling to meet their food and nutritional needs because of the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our economy,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services. “DHSS continues to work with our fellow state agencies and community partners to help reduce the number of individuals and families who are worried about going hungry.”

More than 120,000 Delawareans receive SNAP benefits. The average size of a SNAP household in Delaware is 2.04 individuals and the average monthly benefit amount is $233. Individuals seeking to apply for SNAP benefits in Delaware may apply online through Delaware ASSIST or by phone at 1-866-843-7212.

 

-30-

 

The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


Delaware opens registration for 2020 domestic hemp program

DOVER, Del. – Following up on the recent announcement of USDA’s approval of Delaware’s Domestic Hemp Production Program, the Delaware Department of Agriculture released their registration materials online Friday, February 7.

Under the Delaware Domestic Hemp Production Program, the Delaware Department of Agriculture is responsible for regulating the production of hemp. The Department does not have oversight of the selling of hemp products or the businesses marketing these products. This includes any CBD product.

In the Participant Guide, Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof outlined differences from the 2019 Delaware Hemp Research Pilot Program to the 2020 production program, including:

  • The Department has removed acreage limits for producing hemp.
  • The Department has removed the requirement that seed be delivered to the Department for producer pick up. Please note, when purchasing seed, all seed is still subject to the Federal Seed Act and Delaware Seed Law which regulate seed tags and labeling.
  • The Department has removed the requirement to work with a research institution. A Research Agreement with Delaware State University or any other university is no longer required.
  • The Department will issue official cards for participants to prove credentials to law enforcement if needed. These cards will demonstrate your participation in the Program.
  • The Department will allow producers to designate one person as an Authorized Representative with the authority to be present at sample collection and correspond with the Department. This person must be indicated on the Producer Application and must submit a Criminal History Report.
  • The Department requires only one Criminal History Report, if applying for more than one license type. Criminal History Reports are to be submitted at the time of application or renewal and must be dated no more than four months prior.

The 2020 Delaware Domestic Hemp Production Program is fee-based as outlined in the Participant Guide and applications that can be found online at https://de.gov/hemp.

For this year, the Delaware Department of Agriculture will be accepting producer applications and growing site registrations from February 7 to May 7, 2020. All questions related to Delaware’s Domestic Hemp Production Program should be emailed to DDA_HempProgram@delaware.gov.

###

Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov


Delaware second state on east coast for USDA hemp plan approval

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Department of Agriculture announced today that the USDA approved the state plan submitted for the Delaware Domestic Hemp Production Program. Delaware is now the second state on the East Coast to receive approval to administer a domestic hemp program.

“I want to commend the staff at the Department of Agriculture for putting together a successful plan for smart domestic hemp production in Delaware,” said Governor Carney. “Not only does this help offer another crop for our farmers to produce, but it provides value-added products that will continue to grow small business in our state.”

“The final approval creates opportunities for growers within the state,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know that many growers are looking to produce hemp for oil, but as with any farming operation, it is important to diversify to help spread the risk.” Hemp biomass is used to produce clothing textiles, industrial textiles, paper, building materials, and products to support other agricultural industries.

Grown in the United States from colonial days on, hemp was a major crop until the conclusion of World War II. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act classified hemp as an illicit drug due to its close relationship with marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill permanently legalized hemp and hemp products, establishing them as agricultural commodities, and removing them from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture received notification from USDA’s Deputy Administrator Sonia N. Jimenez that the plan had been approved. With the approval, Delaware assumes “primary regulatory responsibility for hemp production within its jurisdiction.” Manufacturing of hemp products for human and animal consumption remains under the authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“This has been a long time coming, but I am excited that our hard work has paid off and the State Plan has been approved by USDA,” said Plant Industries Administrator Jessica Inhof. “Now we can move forward to finalize the forms and participant guides, as well as the state regulations. I look forward to the 2020 hemp growing season and the future of the Delaware Domestic Hemp Production Program.”

According to Inhof, the Delaware Department of Agriculture will not release registration materials and participant guides to the public until February 7, online at https://de.gov/hemp.

###