We have been supremely focused on Covid-19 and have stayed in touch with the DeWine Administration from a number of different angles. Specifically, as soon as we heard that the administration was in the process of defining "essential services", we reached out through a number of different venues to make the case for our members that our businesses are essential.
We sent letters to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Policy Director, Exec Assistant for Ag, OEPA and ODNR from ONLA, a combination letter from OLCA, OTF and Ohio Sports Turf and the golf course industry defending our cause (note: several of those groups sent letters directly as well). As you know, agriculture and pest management were already deemed essential (hooray) but I did need to go to the mat to include landscaping and retail garden centers.
Once the letters were sent, I fielded phone calls from the administraion to make our case. I worked with contacts I have at the Ohio Department of Health as well because as you can see from the press briefings, ODH Director Amy Acton is generally leading the charge.
Although essential businesses were defined, they were vaguely defined, and there are some gray areas, but generally, we were fairly successful. Within the gray areas, we have coordinated an effort to make sure we have in our trucks what we are relying on to support our definition of essential businesses and showing how we are complying with the order rather than calling the administration and asking too many questions for clarification.
We realize that all of this is a great burden on our members, especially on the employment side, so, I have been staying abreast of the business efforts that are being lead by Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. For more information on business support, see: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/employers-and-employees/
OPARR also continued the new process for "first Mondays" conference calls (we have a conference every first Monday of the month at 3:30). Monday's call was particularly enlightening and it was good to have great representation on the phone. One of the best parts of our OPARR meetings is the association updates. Here are a few BRIEF highlights:
- From Brian Laurent, we heard about the efforts he has made on the issue. He has fielded many calls and has been quoted in USA Today/Golfweek! Way to go, Brian!
- Mark Jordan, Westfield Golf and Country Club was on the call and gave us an update as Vice President of GCSAA. He shared that 31 states have been "open" for golf; 13 states were not open for golf but maintenance is allowed; 5 states had no executive orders and Minnesota has no golf and no maintence allowed.
- Mark Bennet shared that overall on the lawncare front, there has not been much confusion. Knox and Montgomery counties questioned the essentiality of lawncare but Mark had armed his members with info and individually, members in those counties were able to win their case with both counties.
- Lonnie Alonso shared that OPMA members have not had too many problems but he expressed concern that local county health departments are the "enforcers" of the Governor's orders and they no very little or nothing about what we do. Additionally, he shared that he has had several phone calls with ODA staff who are concerned about how the stay-at-home orders impact the pesticide licensing schedule (NOTE: we will be following up on these issues)
- Tony Seegers representing the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation shared that the Economic Disaster Loan at the federal level does not apply to agriculture (although they are working on that) but the Cares Act might allow for assistance. He also discussed the problems the dairy industry has with milk production and milk rationing (GO BUY MILK).
- Ann Aquillo, VP of Scotts MiracleGro couldn’t be on the call but she gave us a real time (today) update on what is going on at the federal level: "Things continue to change daily in our nation's capital as we deal with COVID 19. This story from CNN (link: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/politics/congress-stimulus-money-rollout-latest/index.html ) highlights how difficult the roll out has been to get relief to the right groups. Right now, leaders in the US House and Senate are negotiating a Stimulus plus package within the next few days. This will largely focus on getting more dollars into the SBA program ($250B), but Democrats are also calling for cash to be infused for hospitals, state and local governments and SNAP. Expect to see action quickly and a much larger Stimulus 4 package later this month." Thanks, Ann!
As always, call me if you need help in anyway and we will keep you posted on what we are doing on your behalf.