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Tips for Pa. farmers to limit COVID-19 exposure and risk

Consider ways to limit person-to-person contact on the farm.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has developed guidance and recommendations for farmers to limit exposure and risk related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

It is now critical to consider ways to limit person-to-person contact and congregate in settings of no more than 10 people while maintaining social distance.

Create separate drop-off areas

Identify a drop-off location for regular deliveries away from on-farm high-traffic areas and housing.

Drop boxes are recommended to be placed near the road, before on-farm entry. If a drop box is unavailable, designate a drop-off location on-site.
Create specific instructions for drop-off deliveries. Provide the location and all procedures needed at the drop-off point. Also, create signage to easily identify drop-off points.

List all point of contacts with contact information to assist with questions leading up to delivery and upon arrival.

Practice distancing with delivery drivers. In these circumstances, it is best to not greet them with a handshake. Instead, keep a recommended distance of at least 6 feet. Avoiding personal interaction is best.
Log all deliveries and on-farm entries. Utilize a visitors log for everyone entering the farm and monitor personal travel with a personal travel log.

Prepare on-farm workforce

Provide guidance for handwashing and handling materials and make sure guidance is available and communicated to employees in their native languages.  

Stagger lunch times or provide additional space to increase distancing of employees, and make sure sick employees stay at home.

Inform employees of where they can find handwashing facilities and sanitizing materials throughout on-farm contact points.

Encourage employees to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing during non-work hours.

Sanitize contact surfaces

Disinfect all door handles and knobs, floor mats, steering wheels, and other commonly contacted surfaces.

Sanitize common gathering places, including lobbies, office spaces, lunch rooms, locker facilities, etc.

Have Continuity of Business plans ready

It is recommended that all farms have Continuity of Business (COB) plans to keep operations running smoothly in case of any disruption.

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recommends all farms review and update, or write a continuity of business plan in case of disruption due to COVID-19. COB plans are critical for all operations; however, small farms may be at greater risk if a disruption occurs because the owner may be the sole caretaker.

It is important to have written documentation of your business operations in case of illness so that another family member or neighbor can help if you need to be isolated or treated due to COVID-19. Regardless of operation size, production practices or type of operations, PDA strongly encourages all farms to develop COB plans in case of illness or injury, and communicate the plan to family or another person who can step in, just as you would a will and associated directives.

Here are some examples of information you should have in a COB depending on type of operation:

General farm information

  • Fields and acres under control of farm, including rented property
  • Contacts sheet
  • Key suppliers to the farm
  • Key markets for farm products, including key contacts and relationships to marketers, auctions, etc.
  • Next of kin or trusted person to be in charge should head of farm become incapacitated. Make this a three-deep list in case two or more are lost

Crop-based COB

  • Planned crop rotation by field
  • Soil tests and soil health records
  • Planned IPM program, including pesticide records, license, storage and weed control
  • Key workers for seasonal work
  • Equipment location for both owned and leased equipment
  • Plan for leased or custom help to the farm

Animal based COB

  • Carrying capacity of fields for grazing and field rotation plan
  • Barn layouts and functions
  • Animal inventory and age, and major services by age for each enterprise
  • Breeding records location and plans
  • Location of AI materials or contract with AI and other animal services
  • Health records location and veterinary relationship record, including vet contacts
  • Feeding and nutrition records, including feeding plan by age group and life stage.
  • Processing and hygiene programs and supplies
  • Biosecurity plan / visitor plans for farm
  • Key workers, including part time, who work on farm. If a dairy farm, include relief milkers with contacts
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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