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AmericanHort Special Report

AmericanHort Coronavirus Statement

Ken Fisher

During this period of uncertainly brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to share with you our view and let you know some things we are working through on behalf of our members and the green industry. We understand this situation brings on high levels of anxiety due to the rapid change occurring around us. We will do our best to provide information relevant to horticulture businesses in as timely a manner as possible.

Here are some additional ways AmericanHort is working on your behalf:

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ACCESS TO THE CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE CENTER

Coronavirus Resources

New AmericanHort Coronavirus Resource Center

We encourage you to go to our new Coronavirus Resource Center on our website where we will place current information routinely. We will be using our Connect and Impact Washington member newsletters to keep you informed of the relevant events affecting the green industry.

While our staff works from various locations, we want you to know we have been and will continue to work diligently on your behalf. We are stronger together and we will get through these times through our united efforts.

Updates on Federal Relief Efforts

Several proposals are under consideration by the Trump Administration and Congress to address the stresses of nationwide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.  President Trump has already signed two bills into law to address the fallout from Coronavirus containment and mitigation efforts across the nation.  While details remain unclear, Administration and Congressional leaders have made clear they intend to pass at least one more bill to address the calamitous effect the coronavirus has had on the U.S. economy.

For the latest information on the current administrative and legislative relief efforts, visit the Coronavirus Resource Center.

Updates on Foreign Labor Processing

Status of Diplomatic Operations in Mexico

On Monday, March 16, the U.S. diplomatic mission to Mexico announced that processing of routine immigrant and non-immigrant visas would be suspended until further notice.

On Tuesday, March 17, the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey clarified its intent to continue some H-2 processing. It is our understanding that other consular posts in Mexico will follow suit and continue H-2 processing

Understanding the critical role workers on H-2 visas play in American agricultural labor operations, AmericanHort has been working closely with authorities to advocate that all H-2 processing be defined and handled as ‘emergency processing’. Our latest information from the Department of State indicates that they understand the importance of the H-2 visa program on the nation’s economy and food security and that they are reviewing all options to continue H-2 visa processing.  We will pass on exact information when it becomes available. 

Status of Diplomatic Operations in Guatemala

On Sunday, March 15, the U.S. diplomatic mission to Guatemala announced that Guatemalan restrictions on travel to the United States had canceled almost all flights leaving Guatemala and advised travelers to confirm flight details directly with their carriers. No notice was posted regarding the processing of applications in-country.

Status of Diplomatic Operations in Honduras

The U.S. diplomatic mission to Honduras announced that all routine visa services at the Consular Section of the Embassy in Tegucigalpa are canceled until further notice. The notice states the embassy will be open for emergency services only.

Income Tax Filing and Payment

Our Coalition partner K·Coe Isom is closely monitoring the financial and tax implications stemming from the impact of COVID-19. At this time, the IRS has extended the PAYMENT deadline by 90 days, but the deadline for FILE remains April 15, 2020.

There has been no guidance as it relates to 2020 estimated tax payments or the extension of payment for payroll taxes. We will keep you advised of any official announcements, but at this time we are only hearing proposals and speculation.

The impact on business taxes is currently unknown. We will continue to monitor this.

Keeping Horticultural Businesses Open

Amid a growing trend of mandated business closures, many are wondering what they can do to help their business weather the storm.  The decision on whether businesses can operate will be made, and those with the ability to influence those decisions will be best located, at the state or local level. Our strategy is to equip our members and state/local partners with the arguments to make their case in those discussions.

AmericanHort has collaborated with other industry leaders and organizations, to develop a statement you can use in communicating with government officials. We encourage you to borrow this statement and proactively reach out to your leaders to demonstrate the essential nature of retail garden centers in discussions about mandated business closures.

Additional information is available in the Coronavirus Resource Center.

Guidelines for Communicating with Employees and Customers and Clients

In times of uncertainty, communication is more important than ever. We suggest companies consider two important paths of communication and deliver information in as calm a manner possible. The first path is for employees to help alleviate their concerns, and the second path is to connect with your customers and clients.

Click here for communication tips and suggestions on what your messages to these audiences might address and click here for a FAQ document prepared by legal experts providing recommended responses to questions about teleworking, feeling sick and other questions your employees may have.

Additional information is available in the Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Health, Wellness, and Economic Benefits of Plants

We’re examining our marketing messages and you are likely doing the same. Now may be the time to consider speaking with your employees, customers, and communities about the many benefits of working with plants. Check out our Coronavirus Resource Center for links to information and resources on the benefit of plants you might weave into your communication plans.