Displaying items by tag: MHC Coronavirus Updates

The MHC has been working diligently to obtain confirmation from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that the below Facebook post appearing on the Maryland State Parks Facebook page on April 7, 2020, was in fact, official policy, and the reasons behind that policy.  

ALERT: In accordance with Governor Hogan’s emergency actions to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, horseback riding is prohibited in State Parks.

After some back and forth emails with Nita Settina, Superintendent, Maryland Park Service, DNR, we were provided with the following official statement by Ms. Settina on April 15, 2020.

"The decisions on outdoor recreation were made in consultation with the state’s legal experts on how to interpret the governor’s executive order. The intent of the governor’s executive order is for everyone to stay at home unless you absolutely must leave. 

While we realize that this is an inconvenience, risking unnecessary exposure is not just a hazard for you and your family, it puts our law enforcement, emergency responders, and staff in danger and diverts front line resources that are needed to respond to the pandemic. An exception for the care of live animals has been made in the executive order.

While the Stay at Home order does allow for outdoor exercise recreation, such activities must be limited to reduce potential exposure. Hiking, biking, and walking are expressly allowed under the executive order. Since kayaking and paddle boarding are both human-powered forms of exercise, akin to bicycling, they are permitted under the executive order. 

Activities that require significant time, travel, and use of common facilities exceed the intent of the order's allowance for exercise. Accordingly, state officials have determined commercial and recreational riding centers and stables should suspend operations (as stated in our online guidance FAQs), and the department has followed suit by suspending horseback riding on all public lands until the order is lifted."

We recognize that this statement leaves a lot of unanswered questions, including why only horseback riding is considered an activity that requires "significant time, travel, and use of common facilities" and why, if "the intent of the governor’s executive order is for everyone to stay at home unless you absolutely must leave,” that intent is not deemed to apply to others, for example, to those who load their bikes onto their cars and drive to distant state parks to cycle, or the groups of families and friends who pile into their cars to drive to parks and are, according to press reports, crowding trails with little regard for social distancing.  The MHC strives to maintain a positive relationship with DNR and the State Parks system. However, we are struggling to find a principled way to respond to those who claim that DNR appears to have an institutional bias against horses and horse people in view of this apparent discriminatory treatment.

We also don't understand the correlation between the closure of "commercial and recreational riding centers and stables" on the one hand, and the prohibition of riding in state parks on the other hand.  We are fairly certain that DNR is aware of the fact that many horses in Maryland are privately owned and maintained, and are not necessarily kept at "commercial and recreational riding centers and stables."  (In this regard, "public lands" as used in the statement, refers to state owned land, not county owned land.)

In response to our intent to post this article, Ms. Settina sent us further clarification on behalf of DNR on April 17, as follows:

  "One important point of clarification: the DNR website page that features COVID-19 FAQs has been updated to clarify that the prohibition on horseback riding does include riding on public lands. ( https://news.maryland.gov/DNR/2020/03/31/FREQUENTLY-ASKED-QUESTIONS-ABOUT-GOVERNOR-HOGANS-STAY-AT-HOME-ORDER/ )

In meeting the intent of the governor's stay at home order, other activities currently prohibited include recreational boating, catch-and-release fishing. hunting (unless for necessity), golfing, and off-highway vehicle riding. As with horseback riding, these are outdoor activities the department strongly supports. The state's legal experts, however, have determined that these activities do not meet the definition of "necessary" outdoor exercise and they are prohibited under the executive order.

We appreciate that people disagree with this legal determination and are communicating their displeasure and concerns; however, we hope that your readers will recall the long history of the department's support for horseback riding and know that the state will continue to support this valued recreation in the future as soon as the governor's stay at home order will permit."

While we appreciate DNR's continued commitment to horse enthusiasts, we are still unsure of the basis for their position.  Specifically, we are not sure why horseback riding would not be covered under the March 30 stay at home order as an "essential activity" that includes "engaging in outdoor exercise activities..." 

The MHC will continue to work towards getting state lands open to trail riders again.  In this regard, the state of Maryland has begun looking at ways to start re-opening the state, as the numbers affected by the virus in Maryland start to decline. As part of its input into that process, the MHC is specifically looking to have state lands re-opened to trail riding.  Stay tuned for further updates.

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COVID-19 and Your Business - Will It Survive?

Virtual Town Hall For Maryland Horse Businesses & Non-Profit Organizations

presented by

Maryland Horse Council

Date: Tuesday, April 14, 2020 
Time: 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Presentations will be given by speakers from Maryland Small Business Development Center, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, and several legal experts. The Town Hall meeting is free and open to all members of the equestrian community. The meeting will have a maximum capacity of 100 participants; if registration exceeds capacity, preference will be given to registrants who are MHC members. In order for the meeting to be as informative and as effective as possible, so we encourage you, when you register, to submit questions (there will be a place to do so). This way, we can consolidate similar questions for maximum efficiency. 

At the end of the session, there will be an opportunity for more audience Q&A, as time allows. 

Confirmed Speakers: 

1.Paul Goeringer, UMD, Dept of Ag (USDA programs)
2. Steve McHenry, MARBIDCO - Loan Programs and other Resources
3. J Grier Melick, Maryland Small Business and Technology Development Center - financial resources for small businesses.
4. Brooke Schumm, Daneker, McIntire, Schumm et al. -CARES Act and bankruptcy
5. Keith Wills, MAFC - approved lenders for PPP, MAFC resources.



We are doing our best to keep you informed and up-to-date regarding any and all general and COVID-19 information pertaining to the Maryland horse community during this time.

If you ARE a member and have not been receiving our communications, please contact Emily at membership@mdhorsecouncil.org. If you ARE NOT a member and would like to join, you can do so online at join.mdhorsecouncil.org, by calling 844-MDHORSE (we will return your call) or emailing membership@mdhorsecouncil.org.

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The Maryland Horse Council has pulled together new and additional resources for our state equine community, business, and particularly our non-profits.

We have provided several business-related resources during the last week. While this article addresses those resources, we have added some non-profit specific information relative to the relief programs. We have so many 501c3 organizations in Maryland helping horses that we wanted you to learn about these resources as they apply to your organization and tax structure.

See below for a breakdown of these programs. Each is bolded to highlight to relief programs available to you.

1.SBA- Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”)

501c3 organizations are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. www.sba.gov/funding-prorgrams/loans/paycheck-protection-program. You must reach out to your bank to start the process. The program extends until June 30th, but you should start this as soon as possible with your bank. It is a first come first serve process. It is not need based and will be funded on an as requested basis. The loan amount cannot exceed $10 million, and it is generally 2.5 times your payroll costs. Eligible salaries will be capped at $100,000 (as paid from February 15th to June 30, 2020). You should include higher salaries, but you will not receive more than $100,000 for each of those salaries.

The PPP is not accepting applications from sole proprietors or independent contractors until April 10th.

The interest rate is currently 1% and will not exceed 4%. It is now a two-year term. There is no prepayment penalty and a there is a six-month deferral before the start of payments. There are no collateral or personal guarantees. The loan may be used for rent, utility, and other mortgage and debt obligations.

There is potential loan forgiveness. Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels.  Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease. You apply for 2.5 times payroll costs and what is forgiven ultimately is payroll costs, interest and utilities for eight weeks. You are subject to a possible reduction if you don’t retain the same number of employees as you had prior to the program. Other factors would be reduced pay by more than 25%. If you rehire or increase pay before June 30th, you may be able to avoid this reduction in the amount of forgiveness. SBA provided additional guidance that not more than 25% of the forgiveness can be related to non-payroll costs. 75% must go to payroll.

Application Process:

  1. Simple two-page loan application.
  2. Personal financial statements, IRS form, and schedule of liabilities have not yet been requested. It is possible after initial application.
  3. Calculation of average monthly payroll cost.
  4. Independent contractors do not count in your payroll cost figure. Encourage your contractors to do their own application.

There is a new PPP form as of April 2nd where you can select that you are a non-profit. You can use your board president or signatories to sign the new form.

TIP: Check with your banker for their recommendation.

2.Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

This is a direct application to SBA www.covidrelief.sva.gov/#/. The SBA EIDL Information Link is www.sba.gov/pagr/diaster-loan-applications.

Qualifications & Loan Details

  1. Private nonprofits are eligible. This includes most organizations except religion organizations.
  2. $2 million maximum loan amount.
  3. Term up to 30 years. Waives personal guarantee up to $200,000.
  4. 75% interest rate for non-profits

The SBA is projecting 21 to 31 days to review applications. There are no forgiveness features. It is designed to be a longer-term financing option.

Every applicant can potentially also receive a $10,000 economic injury grant. It is requested during the EIDL loan application process. It may be used for payroll, supply chain disruptions, business obligations, rents, and mortgage purposes. This is a grant and will not need to be repaid.

Thus far we have heard that if you are using the loan and grant money for different purposes you can apply for both. However, if you receive an EIDL grant you most reduce your PPP forgiveness amount, if you have also applied for the PPP.

If you want a grant only, you have to start the loan application process but you don’t necessarily have to accept the loan funds

3.FFCRA – Family First Coronavirus Response Fund

Provides paid leave for employees quarantined, experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis. Employees can receive up to 80 hours at a regular rate. If they are caring for an individual quarantined or for a person under the age of 18 whose school or child care provider is closed, they may receive up to 80%.

Employees may receive up to an additional 10 weeks at 2/3 the regular rate if they are unable to work due to the need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed. There is an employee longevity requirement here. The employee must have been employed for at least 30 days prior to March 1st. If the employee had been terminated and rehired there are additional provisions.

Part-time employees are entitled to paid leave under this program at their average number of work hours in a two-week period. Paid leave does not have to be taken consecutively. For example: Tuesday and Thursday, etc.; it does not have to sequential.

This program is available for organizations with fewer than 500 employees and does includes non-profits. Organizations with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide paid leave due to school closing or child care unavailability if leave request would jeopardize the viability of the organization as an ongoing concern. [Is this accurate? I pasted it in from a prior version of the document, now that I think I understand better what you were getting at.]

Employers receive 100% Reimbursement for required paid leave. Payments are not subject to Employer Social Security tax and employers can claim credit for Medicare tax. Prorated health insurance costs are also eligible for that credit. Reimbursements to employers are made in the form of dollar-for-dollar offset against Form 941 deposits by submitting streamlined advance Form 7200 to the IRA.



There are required posters that must be displayed in your workplace as of April 1st. They must also be made available electronically.

  1. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

4. Additional CARES Act Programs

Employee Retention Credits (“ERC”)

Refundable payroll tax credits are available for 50% of qualified wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees. If you are receiving PPP funds, you are not eligible for this credit.

ERC provides incentives to keep employees on payroll even if forced to close or suspend business.

Businesses are eligible for ERC if business was carried on in 2020 and if operations were fully or partially suspended as a result of a COVID-19 government order, or the organization remained open but experienced a greater than 50% reduction in quarterly receipts as compared to the same quarter in 2019. Eligibility is determined by the whole organization’s revenues, so it cannot be based solely on specific events or programs.

ERC applies to wages paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021. The credit for 50% of qualified wages is claimed against the employer’s 6.2% share of social security payroll taxes for each calendar quarter for which the employer is eligible and qualified wages are paid. If the credit exceeds the organization’s liability, employers can retain federal employment taxes including withheld taxes or request an advance of credit from the IRS.

Qualified Wages: For employers who have an average number of full-time employees in 2019 of 100 or fewer, all employee wages are eligible. Qualified wages include “qualified health plan expenses” to the extent the amounts are excluded from gross income of the employees (so not taxable to employees). Qualified wages are capped at $10,000 for each employee for all quarters. This is a cumulative cap and it is applied at 50%, so a maximum of $5,000 credit per employee. This is not available if you have taken the Work Opportunity Credit with respect to the employee, for wages considered for the employer credit for paid family medical leave (IRC Section 45S), or for wages considered for purposed of the payroll credits for required paid leave under FFCRA.



Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes

Allows employers to defer paying the employer’s 6.2% share of social security taxes due from date of enactment of the Act through the end of 2020. Any amounts deferred will be payable 50% by December 21, 2021 and 50% by December 31, 2022. This applies to any remaining amounts due after applying the previously discussed credits. Organizations that received a PPP loan with forgiveness are NOT eligible for this deferral.

Unemployment Resources

Expanded benefits related to COVID-19. If your employees were previously exempt from unemployment, they are now eligible. For organizations that had elected the self-insure method, you will be responsible to cover half of those benefits now and the other half will be covered by federal funds. If you paid in as you normally do, you will not have your experience ratings increase during this period of time of high unemployment.

Short-Term Compensation (STC) Program

If you have employees for whom you have reduced their hours or pay, you can apply as an employer for supplementary funds from unemployment to make their pay whole.

Tax Income Provisions

“The legislation includes a permanent change to tax deductions for charitable donations: If you claim the standard deduction (meaning you don’t itemize your taxes), you can now deduct up to $300 for qualifying charitable donations “above the line,” which means they lower your total taxable income by the amount you’re deducting.

If you do itemize your taxes, the usual limit on deducting charitable cash donations is 60% of your adjusted gross income. This legislation waives that limit for 2020 (although limits on donations of non-cash assets, like stock, still apply). And the limit for corporations is being increased from 10% to 25%.”

Required minimum distributions have been suspended this year. Contributions to Donor Advised Funds are not eligible for the $300 deduction. Also, donations in excess of 60% of adjusted gross income cannot be to Donor Advised Funds. Donations to SPELL OUT QCDs are still available though. A QCDs is a charitable qualified  distribution that allows you to “rollover” up to $100,000 of you required minimum distribution after age 70.5 without incurring ordinary income taxes it must be made directly to the charity from the financial institution.

Tax Deadline for Non-Profits

990 filing still due May 15th

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APRIL 2, 2020



On Monday, March 30th, Governor Larry Hogan signed a new executive order instituting a “Stay at Home” directive.

During his press conference, he stated, "No Marylander shall be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or an essential reason such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or for other necessary purposes...essential businesses are directed to scale down operations to reduce the required in-person staff in order to limit in-person interactions and institute telework.”

This new executive order went into effect at 8pm Monday, March 30th. The Governor further stated: “Today’s order states that any person who knowingly or willfully violates the order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is subject to imprisonment not to exceed one year or a fine of $5,000 or both.”

We understand that these are difficult, stressful, and confusing times. The Governor has issued two orders recently that directly affect horse businesses and horse people. The first, issued on 3/23, was directed at businesses, and mandated the closure of non-essential businesses. The second, issued 3/30, was directed at individual citizens and mandated that they stay at home except for essential reasons.

Following the issuance of these orders, there was a lot of discussion about what they mean for horse businesses and horse people. The Horse Council has been in constant communication with the MD Department of Agriculture and its MD Horse Industry Board, to try to interpret what these orders mean. The directions we received so far from MDA in these discussions (and - keep in mind that these are subject to change as the pandemic develops) can be summarized as follows: 1) self-care boarding activities are permitted; 2) in general, when horses are in full-care boarding situations, horse owners should not travel to visit, groom, or ride their horses absent a legitimate reason that their horse’s health or safety cannot be secured by the staff at the boarding facility. Owners of boarding facilities have the discretion to decide that, under the current circumstances, additional help is needed to provide basic care for horses, and they can designate individuals to add as temporary “staff.” They can provide those individuals (as well as their regular staff) with letters certifying their right to travel to those jobs.

For your convenience, we have customized documents originally released by the Maryland Farm Bureau for the Maryland horse industry. Please use the following links to retrieve templates for Essential Farm Workers and Essential Farm Contracters. 

Click here to download the essential farm workers permit

Click here to download the essential farm contractor permit

Barn owners should continue to observe all CDC and WHO guidelines for bio-security, as well as continuing to observe the “social distancing” requirements of the Governor’s 3/23 order (no more than 10 people in a gathering and 6’ separation). Here is a useful legal discussion for barn owners to consider when thinking about their operations: Should I Lock Down my Facility, We recommend that horse farm and business owners check with their lawyers and insurance agents about potential liability for being a source of contagion to or from persons on their property, and also for what coverage they might have for business interruption/loss of income.

Veterinarians and farriers provide essential services, as stated in our Maryland Minimum Standards of Care, and must be allowed to continue to care for horses for both routine and emergency appointments. Banning this type of essential care from your property could be in violation of the Maryland Minimum Standards of Care (routinely consulted by courts) which could be considered abuse or neglect.

We at the Horse Council have been struggling with what these orders have meant for us, personally, and our own horses. We have been buoyed by the remarks of MD Deputy Secretary of Health Fran Phillips, so we share them with you:

“When this crisis is over ― and one day it will be over ― we will look back at this time in our lives as a particularly extraordinary moment. When we look back, we have to be able to say that we did everything we could to save lives,” Phillips said. “We stayed home, we missed school, we missed our friends, all of our normal routines, so we could fight this virus and save lives. We will say we gave up so much for a while in order to save our loved ones, our friends, neighbors and countless others that we will never know.”

In order to provide our Maryland horse community with as much information as possible, we are working on a series of webinars and/or virtual town halls. Please stay tuned as we anticipate announcing the first one in the next week.

With that said, we have compiled additional financial resources for you as many are experiencing significant financial hardships.

First, The Equiery and the Maryland Horse Council want to do what we can to help our community weather these tough times, so we are offering the opportunity to win 1 of 4 free quarter page ads in May issue of The Equiery, with an eblast & social media posts, that you can use to promote and sustain your business. (An $880 value).

To win one of these 4 opportunities, make sure that you or your business page likes & follows The Equiery Facebook page and tell us in the comments how you would use this marketing campaign to promote your business. The winner(s) will be announced at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 6!

Please continue to follow our Equiery/MHC updates as we announce additional support for the horse community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Business Resources Updated March 31st

For a comprehensive list of federal and MD state Corona virus economic resources, see https://govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business:

Maryland Department of Commerce: The Department has a number of existing financing programs, like Advantage Maryland, which provides conditional loans for new businesses or business expansions; the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority and Fund (MIDFA), which provides loan guarantees; the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), which provides financial assistance to economically disadvantaged businesses; and the Non-Profit Interest-Free Micro-Bridge Loan Program, which provides loans to nonprofits to support ongoing operating costs while waiting on a future government grant or contract. A total of about $40 million is available through these existing programs.

Governor Hogan’s 3/30 Press Conference & New Funding Announcements: Governor Hogan announced the expansion of a $175 million economic relief package created last week.
Since last week, the state has received more than 1,500 applications to a $7 million COVID-19 Layoff Aversion fund. Hogan added $2 million to the fund on Monday.
So far, the state has paid $8.8 million to more than 400 small businesses to avert 8,000 layoffs, Hogan said.
The state has also received more than 5,300 applications for a $50 million business relief fund, and more than 11,000 applications for new grant funding.
Businesses seeking assistance can learn about the programs at businessexpress.maryland.gov.

Maryland Credit Unions: MD credit unions are offering some flexibility to their members.


A recent membership survey conducted by the MD|DC Credit Union Association shows credit unions are offering immediate relief to consumers struggling to pay bills through loan modifications, fee waivers and other assistance programs:

  • 95% are offering loan modifications such as skip-a-payment, low or no-interest loans, or increased line of credit.
    • 53% are offering new emergency loan products with deferred payments and/or reduced or no interest.
    • 60% are waiving fees or penalties for overdraft, loan applications, ATM, or early withdrawal from CDs.

American Horse Council: Here is an analysis by the American Horse Council of how some of the Federal relief programs apply to horse operations. These are federal provisions only. Maryland has its own programs as do some counties within the state.


For example, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Loans are facilitated through approved local lenders, including Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit. Check the American Horse Council link above for more info.

Montgomery County Relief Package: Bill 16-20 creates an emergency grant program and provides $20 million in funding for small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The Council also approved an additional $6 million in funding with $5 million going for direct financial assistance to Montgomery County residents and $1 million allocated to support safety net services through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Read the full press release here.

The Council staff report and the full text of Bill 16-20, the Covid-19 Economic Relief Act, can be found here.

Information on the supplemental appropriations can be found here.

Prince George’s County will offer up to $15 million in grants and loans to businesses impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Companies may apply for loans of up to $100,000 and grants of up to $10,000. More information can be found here: https://www.pgcedc.com/covid-business-fund-2020

Read the Horse Council’s initial post, dated March 19, 20202, on relief programs and business assistance, “Business Resources for the Horse Community..

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Business Relief Programs

In order to help those businesses that are ordered to close, the Governor also announced new COVID-19 business relief programs and resources available through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. As of March 23, the entire state of Maryland has received designation for federal Small Business Administration assistance, as well.

Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. These programs provide interim relief funds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.

For more information about all of these programs, click here: https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-programs

Below are more details and links for each Maryland relief program.

SBA Disaster Assistance Applicationhttps://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance

Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This is a $75 million loan fund for for-profit businesses only that offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months. After the first 12 months, the loan converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Click here for more information: https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-loan-fund

Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This is a $50 million grant fund that offers working capital to assist Maryland small businesses and non-profits with disrupted operations due to COVID-19. The grant is intended to provide interim relief complementing actions with its bank, business interruption insurance and financial partners. For more information, click here: https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-grant-fund

Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This is a $5 million incentive program helping Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for hospitals and health-care workers across the country. Details can be found here: https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-covid-19-emergency-relief-manufacturing-fund

COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – This program is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19 by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. Up to $50,000 per applicant can be used in a customizable way for the specific needs of each business to minimize layoffs. Grant applications will be awarded from March 23 through 30-days after the State of Emergency ends (subject to funding availability). For more information, click here: http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/covidlafund.shtml

Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program – Work Sharing is a voluntary program that provides an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a temporary, non-cyclical decline in business due to lower economic activity. The program is designed to avoid layoffs by preserving jobs for trained workers. Click here for more information: http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/worksharing/

If you have questions about any of these programs and/or would like to apply for relief assistance, click on the program’s link for requirements, instructions and applications.


Check Your Insurance Policy

Check your commercial property insurance coverage, if you have it, and speak to your insurance broker or agent to discuss if you may have coverage for business losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related governmental orders. For more information on how insurance coverage might or might not apply to business losses related to the virus, click here: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/insurance-coverage-time-coronavirus-business-interruption-coverage-may-require

For the Maryland Insurance Administration's advisory on business interruption insurance, click here: https://insurance.maryland.gov/Pages/newscenter/NewsDetails.aspx?NR=2020256

For more detailed, general information about the various types of business interruption insurance, how it works, how to file claims and prove losses, etc., click here: https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/guest-blog-getting-back-business-interruption-insurance


FDA Helps Facilitate Veterinary Telemedicine

As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ongoing commitment to combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and providing flexibility across FDA-regulated industries, the agency announced that it intends to temporarily not enforce certain requirements in order to allow veterinarians to better utilize telemedicine to address animal health needs during the pandemic. Click here for more information: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-helps-facilitate-veterinary-telemedicine-during-pandemic

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MHC UPDATE: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 3:30pm


First, we at the Horse Council want to say that we understand how stressful a time this has been. We have been getting tremendous feedback and questions from our recent posts. Many have expressed appreciation for our efforts to share the latest information. Some have expressed anger at MHC.

Just to be clear, the information we have shared is not information that the Horse Council itself developed, mandated or interpreted. 

The Horse Council is a private, membership-based trade association for the horse industry in Maryland. We are not a government agency and have no regulatory or enforcement power. The information that we have received and have shared with the equestrian community is from the Governor’s office and from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. This information is evolving, and we have tried to share it with you as soon as possible after we receive it, as a public service.

We have continued to communicate with MDA, sharing the questions and concerns of our community. In response, this morning, Wed. March 25, the MDA has shared these modified guidelines regarding horse operations:

"1. The statement put out by MDA/MHIB yesterday was approved by the Governor's office. The points made in that statement are considered guidelines and not law. The law is no more than 10 people in a gathering or on a farm at one time and to practice social distancing of 6 feet from another person.

2. Farm owners/operators decide who is considered essential staff. That can include exercise of horses. Exercise of horses is considered recommended care. However, if the farm owner wants to exclude all people from his/her property that is their right, including full care boarders if they regard them as non essential. If they regard them as essential care, they can allow them on, but they must practice social distancing and no more than 10 people at one time."

The Horse Council is also sharing this information from the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel about interpreting the Governor’s order #20-03-23-01 in Interpretative Guidance COVID19-06:

"At this time, the Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) recommends that the Administration interpret the above-referenced Order as follows: 

• Staff Access to Non-Essential Businesses. The Order requires businesses, organizations, and facilities to close to the general public. This does not prohibit staff from being on-site as reasonably necessary for the purposes listed below, if this can be accomplished in a manner consistent with all applicable guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), the Maryland Department of Health (“MDH”), and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) regarding social-distancing and environmental cleaning and disinfection:
                     • Caring for live animals"

The Governor's Office of Legal Counsel further advised:

"This Interpretive Guidance maybe revised or rescinded at any time. Citizens are urged to consult with their own legal counsel for advice about the application of the Order and this Interpretive Guidance to their particular facts and circumstances.” 

The Maryland Horse Council urges farm and business owners to consult with their legal counsel and insurance carriers about potential liability for claims by clients or staff that might result from exposure to COVID-19.


For your reference, our previous communications can be found here:
March 23 on mdhorsecouncil.org and equiery.com"ESSENTIAL COVID-19 INFORMATION FOR MARYLAND’S HORSE COMMUNITY,” regarding the State of Emergency from Governor Hogan. 


The March 24 update provided a link to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s interpretation for the horse industry of the Governor’s updated State of Emergency.

More guidance posted by MHC on MHC and Equiery social media late yesterday, Tuesday, March 24: facebook.com/MarylandHorseCouncil and facebook.com/TheEquiery.

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  FROM THE MARYLAND HORSE COUNCIL      MHC logo newfont colors.png LEFT




Dear Maryland Horse Community,

First and foremost, we sincerely hope you, your families, and your beloved horses are safe and healthy as we face some of the most unprecedented times in modern history. The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of our local horse community and it is our responsibility as the Maryland Horse Council to provide you with the most relevant and up-to-date information. You can easily find all official information from our governor and the state here. We will continue to update this page with new information and guidance as it is received: 

March 24, 2020

On behalf of the Governor, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has released a statement clarifying essential business operations for the horse industry. We remind you that Governor Hogan requested at his press conference yesterday that “unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, you need to stay home.” 

This statement deems care of horses the sole essential activity of a horse farm and allows self-care boarders to continue to provide care during this time.

The full statement is pasted and linked below. If you think your business should be considered essential, please use this link to make a request: 

Statement to Horse Industry in Response to Executive Order on Non-Essential Businesses

Governor Larry Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses to close by 5 p.m. March 23, 2020. While farms and the agriculture and food supply chains are considered essential, commercial and recreational riding centers and stables should prepare to suspend their operations to the public. Horse care, boarding facilities and other operations that provide self-care boarding for privately-owned horses are considered essential and should continue operations while implementing safety measures that promote social distancing and other best practices. 

See the Maryland Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information. Any questions related to specific businesses can be sent to commerce.secretary@maryland.gov. If you think your business should be considered essential, please use this link to make a request: 

March 23, 2020


Governor Larry Hogan held another press conference this morning to issue a new Executive Order closing all non-essential Maryland businesses, organizations, establishments, and facilities at 5pm on Monday, March 23rd. This new order closes all other businesses not defined by federal guidelines as critical infrastructure sectors. Agriculture is considered a critical infrastructure sector. We are awaiting additional insight from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, expected later this afternoon, on the specifics of equine related operations permissible at this time. Care of your equines is considered an essential activity per guidance received from the Maryland Department of Agriculture on Sunday, March 22nd. 

We are fielding a number of questions specifically related to the permissible activities at boarding operations. At this time, lesson programs, camps, clinics, horse shows, and other social and sporting activities and events are deemed non-essential. Additional guidance specific to the number and permissible activities of people allowed on the property of a facility strictly used for boarding horses is forthcoming. 

Governor Hogan also stated that at this time, he is not ordering a “shelter-in-place” mandate but said, “unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, you need to stay home.”

Governor Hogan, in conjunction with Commerce Secretary Schulz and Labor Secretary Robinson, announced several business relief programs including the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund and the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund. Information on these programs can be found here: https://govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business.

Additional information on how Marylanders can help during the COVID-19 crisis can be found at: https://governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites/

At this time, it is highly recommended for all Marylanders, including horse owners, to follow Governor Hogan’s request to stay home. We will update the horse community as soon as more specifics are released by MDA.

Please click here for more COVID-19 information that includes useful links to federal guidelines and previous communications from the Maryland Horse Council. https://mdhorsecouncil.org/mhc-news/item/335-essential-covid-19-information-for-maryland-s-horse-community

March 21, 2020

We have been receiving a number of questions during this time about animal care and if there would be restrictions during a potential lockdown. Here is some guidance from Homeland Security that we have pulled together:

There is specific recognition that animal care, including suppliers of feed and bedding, are considered essential on a federal level. But states can make additional rules.


• Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products

• Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations - Carry-out and delivery food employees

• Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing

(packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging

• Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically

• Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs

• Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor- managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers

• Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail

• Company cafeterias - in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees

• Workers in food testing labs in private industries and in institutions of higher education

• Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments

• Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids

• Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce

• Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products

• Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution."

Please see these additional government resources: 



3. Homeland Security Recognizes Agriculture as Critical Industry

March 18, 2020

Illegal Activities - Fines & Jail Time
As of today, March 18th, the ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people remains in effect. This means that any event larger than 10 people (e.g. horse shows, clinics, larger trail rides, conferences, etc.) is illegal under current Maryland law. Willful violation of the ban could result in fines up to $5000 and imprisonment of up to one year.Equine Related Injuries - ERs & Hospitals
During this time, please exercise extreme caution in your own equine activities. Think twice about doing anything that might increase your risk of injury. The state continues to face shortages in the medical community including reduced inpatient beds, availability of doctors, and sterile medical environments free of possible COVID-19 contamination. Trips to the ER increase your risk of contracting disease, and you may also be taking up medical resources that are needed by very sick people.

Social Distancing for Stables - Best Practices
The CDC and WHO also suggest the practice of social distancing. This should apply to all activities including equestrian activities at your farms, barns, and other agricultural buildings. Please ensure:

1. A minimum space barrier of 6 feet between yourself and other people at all times. (e.g. no giving leg ups, no riding side by side, etc.)
2. No more than 10 people in an area or present at an activity at one time.
3. Sanitization of all common surfaces, supplies, and other items.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A person CAN contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. The virus can survive from several hours up to a week or more on surfaces, depending on the type of surface, and the temperature and humidity.  https://www.prevention.com/health/a31405079/how-long-does-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces/

These objects found in and around your farms include but are not limited to:
1. Tack and Apparel- Bridles, Saddles, Girths, Saddle Pads, Wraps, Helmets, Boots, and all other Leather and Cloth items.
2. Communal Barn Supplies- Pitch forks, Wheelbarrows, Hoses, Grooming equipment, etc.
3. Rest room, tack room, feed room door knobs, light switches, etc.

We strongly advise you consider this when making decisions to continue your lesson programs and invite individuals including boarders to your facilities. You can find a list of disinfectant products that are effective in killing the COVID-19 virus here:  https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdf

Business Insurance - Loss of Income Clauses
If you own a business and are or expect to suffer a significant loss of revenue, we encourage you to check your business insurance policy for loss of income clauses and any recourse during a declared national or state of emergency.

Horse Care & Welfare - Available Resources
Finally, all members of the Maryland equestrian community should start thinking about how we can be prepared to help our fellow equestrians and their horses as the economic impact of the pandemic widens and is felt locally. If owners can no longer afford to care for their horses, the Maryland Horse Council, METS, and The Equiery along with the Maryland Fund for Horses can help with suggestions and options, before horses become abandoned or go without hay or feed. 

We are your source for all Maryland horse information and we are your voice in Annapolis. Stay safe, be communicative on our social media pages, and keep us informed of any news in your communities! We will continue to closely monitor the information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and relay relevant new information in a timely manner.


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