Food Industry Office Hours to Answer COVID-19 Questions from the Cornell Food Safety Extension Team

Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
In the light of the recent coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic Cornell’s Institute for Food Safety has created a comprehensive website for commercial processors: Food Industry Resources for Coronavirus (COVID-19). As part of the Resources a Frequently Asked Questions for the Industry section was created that initiated a large influx of questions from the industry. In effort to address these questions Cornell’s Institute for Food Safety together with partners from the NYS Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Dairy Division are hosting a series of Food Industry Virtual Office Hours to Answer COVID-19 Questions. Food Industry Office Hours will be hosted starting this Monday, March 23, 2020 at 4:00pm (EST). The Monday session will be open to the public while on the following two sessions will require prior registration. Registration will allow participants to submitting their questions in advance to make sure they get addressed during the sessions. See below information on individual Office Hours and how to register.
Monday, March 23, 2020 – 4:00pm (EST)
Faculty Participants:
Dr. Sam Alcaine, Assistant Professor
Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour, Professor
Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety
Officials from NYS Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Dairy Division
Or dial by your location:
1-877-369-0926 US Toll-free
1-855-880-1246 US Toll-free
Meeting ID: 736 487 627
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 – 12:00pm (EST)
Faculty Participants:
Dr. Sam Alcaine, Assistant Professor
Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour, Professor
Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety
Officials from NYS Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Dairy Division
Friday, March 27, 2020 – 8:00am (EST)
Faculty Participants:
Dr. Sam Alcaine, Assistant Professor
Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour, Professor
Dr. Martin Wiedmann, Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety
Officials from NYS Agriculture and Markets Food Safety and Dairy Division

Resources for supporting children’s emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic

The latest from child trends

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently reports that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low for young Americansresearch on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives. This resource offers information on supporting and protecting children’s emotional well-being as this public health crisis unfolds.

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, everyday life has changed and will continue to change for most people in the United States, often with little notice. Children may struggle with significant adjustments to their routines (e.g., schools and child care closuressocial distancing, home confinement), which may interfere with their sense of structure, predictability, and security. Young people—even infants and toddlers—are keen observers of people and environments, and they notice and react to stress in their parents and other caregivers, peers, and community members. They may ask direct questions about what is happening now or what will happen in the future and may behave differently in reaction to strong feelings (e.g., fear, worry, sadness, anger) about the pandemic and related conditions. Children also may worry about their own safety and the safety of their loved ones, how they will get their basic needs met (e.g., food, shelter, clothing), and uncertainties for the future.

While most children eventually return to their typical functioning when they receive consistent support from sensitive and responsive caregivers, others are at risk of developing significant mental health problems, including trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression. Children with prior trauma or pre-existing mental, physical, or developmental problems—and those whose parents struggle with mental health disorderssubstance misuse, or economic instability—are at especially high risk for emotional disturbances.

In addition to keeping children physically safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important to care for their emotional health. Below, we summarize recommendations for promoting the emotional well-being of children in the face of these types of adversities and provide a list of helpful resources. Because broader environments play an important role in supporting an individual’s resilience to childhood adversity, this list supplements resources specifically for children and their families with those intended for educators, communities, and states, territories, and tribes.

Recommendations to support and protect children’s emotional well-being during the pandemic:

Understand that reactions to the pandemic may vary.

Children’s responses to stressful events are unique and varied. Some children may be irritable or clingy, and some may regress, demand extra attention, or have difficulty with self-care, sleeping, and eating. New and challenging behaviors are natural responses, and adults can help by showing empathy and patience and by calmly setting limits when needed.

Ensure the presence of a sensitive and responsive caregiver.

The primary factor in recovery from a traumatic event is the presence of a supportive, caring adult in a child’s life. Even when a parent is not available, children can benefit greatly from care provided by other adults (e.g., foster parents, relatives, friends) who can offer them consistent, sensitive care that helps protect them from a pandemic’s harmful effects.

Social distancing should not mean social isolation.

Children—especially young children—need quality time with their caregivers and other important people in their lives. Social connectedness improves children’s chances of showing resilience to adversity. Creative approaches to staying connected are important (e.g., writing letters, online video chats).

Provide age-appropriate information.

Children tend to rely on their imaginations when they lack adequate information. Adults’ decisions to withhold information are usually more stressful for children than telling the truth in age-appropriate ways. Adults should instead make themselves available for children to ask questions and talk about their concerns. They might, for example, provide opportunities for kids to access books, websites, and other activities on COVID-19 that present information in child-friendly ways. In addition, adults should limit children’s exposure to media coverage, social media, and adult conversations about the pandemic, as these channels may be less age-appropriate. Ongoing access to news and social media about the pandemic and constant conversation about threats to public safety can cause unnecessary stress for children.

Create a safe physical and emotional environment by practicing the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation.

First, adults should reassure children about their safety and the safety of loved ones, and tell them that it is adults’ job to ensure their safety. Second, adults should maintain routines to provide children with a sense of safety and predictability (e.g., regular bedtimes and meals, daily schedules for learning and play). And third, adults should support children’s development of regulation. When children are stressed, their bodies respond by activating their stress response systems. To help them manage these reactions, it is important to both validate their feelings (e.g., “I know that this might feel scary or overwhelming”) and encourage them to engage in activities that help them self-regulate (e.g., exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation activities, regular routines for sleeping and eating). In addition, it is essential to both children’s emotional and physical well-being to ensure that families can meet their basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing).

Keep children busy.

When children are bored, their levels of worry and disruptive behaviors may increase. Adults can provide options for safe activities (e.g., outside play, blocks, modeling clay, art, music, games) and involve children in brainstorming other creative ideas. Children need ample time to engage in play and other joyful or learning experiences without worrying or talking about the pandemic.

Increase children’s self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the sense of having agency or control—an especially important trait during times of fear and uncertainty. Children often feel more in control when they can play an active role in helping themselves, their families, and their communities. For example, children can help by following safety guidelines (e.g., washing their hands), preparing for home confinement (e.g., helping to cook and freeze food), or volunteering in the community (e.g., writing letters or creating art for older adults or sick friends, sharing extra supplies with a neighbor).

Create opportunities for caregivers (which may mean yourself!) to take care of themselves.

Children’s well-being depends on the well-being of their parents and other caregivers. Caregivers must take care of themselves so they have the internal resources to care for others. To this end, adult caregivers can engage in self-care by staying connected to social supports, getting enough rest, and taking time for restorative activities (e.g., exercise, meditation, reading, outdoor activities, prayer). Seeking help from a mental health provider is also important when adults struggle with very high levels of stress and other mental health challenges.

Seek professional help if children show signs of trauma that do not resolve relatively quickly.

Emotional and behavioral changes in children are to be expected during a pandemic, as everyone adjusts to a new sense of normal. If children show an ongoing pattern of emotional or behavioral concerns (e.g., nightmares, excessive focus on anxieties, increased aggression, regressive behaviors, or self-harm) that do not resolve with supports, professional help may be needed. Many mental health providers have the capacity to provide services via “telehealth” (i.e., therapy provided by telephone or an online platform) when in-person social contact must be restricted.

Emphasize strengths, hope, and positivity.

Children need to feel safe, secure, and positive about their present and future. Adults can help by focusing children’s attention on stories about how people come together, find creative solutions to difficult problems, and overcome adversity during the epidemic. Talking about these stories can be healing and reassuring to children and adults alike.


From Child Trends
Improving the lives and prospects of children and youth through high-quality research

AGM/DOH Interim Guidance for food manufacturing plants & retail stores

To help prevent spread of COVID-19, procedures and supplies should be in place to encourage proper hand and respiratory hygiene as well as routine cleaning and disinfection of high-risk locations. This guidance is provided for any food manufacturing facilities, food distribution centers or food retail stores so that owners, operators and other individuals can incorporate these procedures into their facility protocols.


COVID-19 Risk Management Strategy Checklist from the Cornell Food Safety Extension Team

Technical Measures
  • Identify and routinely clean and sanitize high-risk locations/surfaces (Example locations)
Organizational Measures  
  • Appoint a COVID-19 point person within the organization to handle communication and coordination
  •    Regularly update staff regarding COVID-19
  •   Prohibit non-essential visitors and outside contractors
  • Prohibit interaction with truck drivers and limit their movement in the facility
  •   Determine the frequency and types of cleaning and sanitizing
  •  Identify supplies that may be jeopardized in the current supply chain and plan allocation accordingly
  • Anytime there is a substitution or change in formulation, your food safety plan should be reviewed which may lead to a process authority review
Personnel Measures
  • Develop and implement guidance for employees (Example)
  • Develop and use protocol for employee screening (See here for a suggested/example of a screening sheet that could be used)
  •   Instruct staff to practice social distancing
    • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between each other whenever possible
    • Avoid personal contact: shaking hands, etc.
  •  Refresh staff on proper hand hygiene and glove practices including handwashing and refraining from touch your face
  •  Refresh staff on limited supply levels (gloves and other PPE) and to use it accordingly
  •  Develop and use protocol for respiratory hygiene (see here for example guidance)
  • Promote protective behavioral measures: avoiding touching doorknobs by hand, etc.
  • Reset break and meeting rooms seating to promote physical distancing
  • Maintain active managerial surveillance for ill/symptomatic employees
  •   Enforce and communicate proactive sick leave policy
    •  Reporting personal illness
    • Reporting illness in the home
This is an initial draft, please contact Louise Felker with feedback and suggestions for corrections. We will continue to provide updates as new versions are available.
The Cornell Food Safety Extension Team

Building Farm Resilience in this Crisis


Offering ideas on how we can take care of ourselves, our farms, and our local communities.

Never before has our work as farmers and stewards been so important.

In times like these — when uncertainty upsets the daily rhythms of our communities — we agriculturists have the opportunity to tap into timeless rhythms of a new season and deliver on a call to action.

Whether you farm, homestead or garden, you can grow more food.

We have a history of rallying to grow more food during times of national crisis. During WWII, the U.S. channeled citizens’ energy into practical action by encouraging Victory Gardens. By doubling efforts at home and on the farm, we strengthened our communities and provided hope in a time of stress.

Now, we need Resilience Gardens.

Your farming and even gardening efforts are, by nature, optimistic! Through hard work, you turn sunshine into real food for your community. Ramping up your production efforts is a practical step you can take to feed more of the people around you.

What else can we in agriculture do now to further support our communities over the next year?

Here are some are a few ideas about how you can take care of yourself, the farm, and your local community. Please add more to our list of ideas for how we can work better together using the form below. We will collect and share all of our ideas about how we can come together to get through this time of crisis.

  • Take care of your farm’s most important asset: you. Wash your hands more frequently and make sure you are getting adequate sleep. We need our strength these days.
  • Don’t think social distancing means social isolation. We are being asked to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, but we have many ways to keep and grow our connections with each other. Call someone. Stay connected to those around you. Ask for help. Offer help. We are in this together.
  • Reach out to farmers and community members around you that you know are having challenges. Now is the time to strengthen the fabric of our own communities by increasing our social connections. Pick up the phone and call them. It is that simple.
  • Release stress. In times of stress, it helps to take a pause and slow down. Do what works for you, such as:
    • Laugh, pray, dance, meditate, chat with friends.
    • Practice tactical breathing. Inhale, count to five, and then exhale slowly to help clear your head and steady your hands.
  • Intensify or expand your production plans, where you can. In the face of possible shifts in our global food system, eating locally will be an important strategy to respond to potential disruptions.
  • Bring extra farm product to food banks, or work with gleaning organizations. We have always had people in need in our communities, but this pandemic could make things worse for those most vulnerable. As a producer, you have the ability to help ease some of that suffering.
  • Revisit your farm’s food safety plan, especially the health and personal hygiene plan. Keep yourself and your employees in good health.
  • Make a plan for running your farm if you, your family or employees get sick. Consider the scenarios of 10, 50 or 75% of farm labor out sick for 2 weeks and try to be realistic. Involve the whole farm team in this conversation. Reach out to neighbors or other farm friends who might be able to help. Here are some questions to consider:
    • What farm operations must go on? What would be cascades or ripple effects if that activity stopped? Who would be responsible, and what happens if they are not available?
    • What operations or activities could be put on hold?
    • How can we cross-train our team now to better cover our bases and be more resilient?
    • Who is willing to pitch in and help if you are out of commission for two weeks? Anyone off the farm you could call upon?
    • Could you step up to help a neighbor?
  • Prepare for market changes. We are already seeing impacts of this pandemic on wholesale and direct markets and getting calls from farmers who are concerned. Customers may shy away where there are crowds. What creative solutions could help address these concerns and keep customers connected to our locally-grown food?

As farmers and gardeners, we have tremendous biological wealth. While we may not always have cash, we have access to soil, plants and animals that are the foundation of life. We can share that wealth and help lead our communities through this time of struggle.

Please share with us your ideas about how we as a farming community can prepare and respond to become more resilient in the face of crisis. We will be keeping in touch with you and sharing ideas and strategies over the next several weeks.

Reach out to us if you need help. We may not have all the answers, but we can listen with compassion and try to connect you with resources. Please also share your stories of hope!

We are in this together.

/Cornell Small Farms Program

All 4-H Events Postponed


Dear 4-H leaders, volunteers, and members,

Due to the evolving corona virus situation Cornell Cooperative Extension Administration is recommending that in addition to suspending all 4-H sponsored programs, meetings, and events; all 4-H club activities must also be suspended for 30 days. This means that all 4-H club leaders cannot hold club meetings or activities that would bring the club members together until after April 15th.

Our Executive Director Jeanne Darling is working closely with Cornell University and our CCE Delaware County Board of Directors to monitor the corona virus situation and will advise us on how to proceed in regards to resuming club meetings and other 4-H sponsored activities and events after April 15th.

In addition due to guidance from Cornell we will have to postpone the following events:

*District Horse Bowl, Hippology, and Dairy Bowl (was March 14)
*4-H Reusable Bag Sewing Class (was March 14)
*District Public Presentation Help Day (was March 17)
*4-H Quilters (was March 18)
*4-H Dairy Judging (was March 25)
*District Public Presentations (was March 28)
*4-H International Night (was April 3)
*STARR (was April 24-26)

These events will be rescheduled to a later date TBD.

Please feel free to contact us at 607-865-6531 if you have any questions.

John, Emily, and Pam

2019 Youth Summit a great success!

2019 Youth Summit group

2019 Youth Summit group

74 students and 37 teachers and presenters from 13 area schools attended the 2019 Youth Summit on October 7-8, 2019 at Frost Valley YMCA!  Students learned about climate change and how to lead climate actions in their school and community.  Workshops and activities focused on 4 tracks: Recycling, Water, Science and Earth.  Speakers included:

  • Sean Russell, Director, Youth Ocean Conservation Summit – Saving Our Water Planet: Activating a Youth Movement to Change the World
  • Dove Karn, Margaretville Central School Teacher – Truth in 10 Climate Reality
  • Amanda LaValle, Ulster County Department of the Environment – Be a Catalyst for Community Climate Action

Funding for the Youth Climate Summit provided by NOAA, Catskill Watershed Corporation, NYC DEP and NYSERDA.  Student scholarships for Delaware County Schools were provided by Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Cornell Cooperative Extension worked with funders, The Wild Center and advisory teachers and students to develop this informative and empowering program.

Corn Silage Dry Down Day Results

CCE educator Paul Cerosaletti addressing group in field with corn crops

19 samples of corn were tested on September 18th and averaged 29% Dry Matter (DM). Samples ranged from 24% DM to 34% DM. Whole field DM will be 2 points wetter than a small sample. Download the results (PDF)

A few fields are getting close to or are at target Dry Matter (DM) for harvest, but many are 10 – 21 days out from predicted target harvest moisture, assuming an average dry down rate of 0.5% point per day. This could change with extended dry weather, frosted corn and/or advanced leaf disease damage.

We found that most samples had extensive symptoms of early leaf disease, which may progress rapidly in next few weeks with above average temperatures, dry weather, and maybe even frost in the forecast.


  • Harvesting too early (<32%DM) will result in reduced yield, reduced silage starch content, challenged fermentation and increased risk for silo juicing (which is a potent pollutant as well as tough on silos).
  • It is critical to continue monitoring whole plant DM. Getting DM into the target zone yields best fermentation.
  • Using reputable inoculants, especially when it is getting too dry, can help. Inoculants containing Lactobacillus Buchneri have been shown to be more effective with corn silage.
  • Increasing chop length with wetter silage will reduce silo juicing.
Our next dry down day will be on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 from 10:00am – 2:30pm at
DelRose Farm (The Hanselman’s)
9636 County Route 18 Bloomville NY 13739
Can’t make it? We can test dry matters at any time in our office!  Call the either the Nutrient Management or Precision Feed Management teams at 607-865-7090.

Be on the Lookout for Black Cutworm Damage in Corn in Delaware County!

This spring throughout the Northeast we are seeing areas with increased catches of Black Cutworm moths in pheromone traps.  Delaware County is one of these areas with elevated Black Cutworm moth catches, and we are starting to hear reports of cutworm damage in the county.  While Integrated Pest Management specialists are quick to point out that elevated catches do not necessarily mean damage will be greater, it does signify that the risk of cutworm damage may be greater.

Black Cutworm moths travel in from other parts of the US on storm fronts, as do many other crop pests.  The moths typically (although not always) look to lay their eggs in areas where there is some green growth, such as weedy fields.  Black Cutworms are nocturnal and feed on corn plants at night.  During the day they hide in the soil at the base of corn plants.   Delayed crop planting this year, puts the seedling corn at greater risk as economic damage thresholds are more quickly achieved on smaller corn plants:

What to D0:

  1. Scout your Corn:Now is the time to get out in corn fields and look for cutworm damage.   Cutworm damage is easy to spot; look for corn plants cut off as the soil level.  Sometimes (especially in dry conditions) the larvae will cut the palnt below the soil surface and the corn seedling will simply wilt and die in place.   Depending on when plants were cut, there may or may not be a corn plant yet on the soil surface.   Where there is evidence of freshly cut plants, dig into the soil within a couple inch radius of the corn plant.  Typically, the cutworm (a black greasy looking caterpillar) can be found readily (see photo).    It should be noted that cutworm damage can look a lot like bird damage where birds snip of the corn plant in the process of trying to pull it up.  The defining variable will be the finding of the cutworm larvae.
  2. Act if Necessary:  Just because you find cutworm damage and live cutworms does NOT mean that you have the pest at a level that will cause economic damage.    Integrated pest management specialists have determined the following economic damage thresholds, when reached or exceeded, would warrant chemical control;
    1. Corn at V2 stage (2 fully emerged leaves with leaf collars)  – 2 cut plants per 100
    2. Corn at V3 stage (3 fully emerged leaves with leaf collars)  – 3 cut plants per 100
    3. Corn at V4 stage (4 fully emerged leaves with leaf collars)  – 5 cut plants per 100
    4. Corn at V5 stage (5 fully emerged leaves with leaf collars)   – 7 cut plants per 100

NOTE:  Be realistic about how extensive the damage is in the field – it may only be in an isolated area

NOTE: If larvae are large (1.25″) they will pupate soon and most of the damage is already done.

If you find you have economic damage and larvae still have growth left (and damage left to do), chemical control is an option, and can be combined with herbicide applications that may still need to be done.

Black Cutworm and Cut Corn Plant – Photo Jamie Cummings, NYS IPM



There’s Always a Benefit

I caught myself saying this phrase the other day, “Remember there is a benefit, it just might not be the benefit you’re looking for at that moment”. I was talking with a dairy farmer about how wet his pastures were and the fact that the pasture quality is getting low and the quantity is getting high but it is too wet to clip without sinking out of sight. My statement references the natural nutrient cycle that is created in a compost pile or when a cover crop is sprayed or rolled. Because of the mature nature of the grass at this point, Mid-June, the dairy herd is probably going to leave a large amount of grass out in the pasture. What to do with the rest… This particular farmer was using his heifers to try and eat what the lactating herd left. This is a good idea and allows you to let the lactating herd to eat the “best” and leave the rest. Another benefit is the refusal itself. With pastures getting overgrown this year, I am going to go out on a limb and guess that manure or fertilizer may not have made it to the pasture either because of the wet conditions. The trampled grasses, forbs, and legumes left after grazing can add nutrients back to your pasture as they decompose and feed the microbes that release nutrients to the living portions of the plant that are beginning to tiller and regrow. The mat of grass also helps keep your cows from sinking through and pugging up the pasture and reducing compaction. So I will end with how I started, Remember there is a benefit, it just might not be the benefit you’re looking for at that moment. Happy Grazing!

P.S. for further reading check out this article form

What Makes Grass Grow Back Fastest – Trampling, Clipping or Cow Spit?

By Ben Hepler: