After being designated critical care businesses by executive order in April after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Minnesota farms, farmers markets and other agricultural businesses are required to have a COVID-19 preparedness plan in place by June 29.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is reminding critical sector businesses of the deadline. The COVID-19 preparedness plan should comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 guidelines and OSHA standards.
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“We are really encouraging farms with employees and those who invite customers on-site to develop and implement a plan to ensure the health and safety of their families, their employees, and their customers,” according to Margaret Hart, MDA communications director.
Overall, all farms are encouraged to have a plan, but especially those that employ others and have customers on-site such as U-pick operations, Hart says.
To aid farmers in developing preparedness plans, MDA provides online links to various websites where templates are available.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has created a preparedness plan template that includes all required plan components and is available in Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
The University of Minnesota Extension has a COVID-19 response workbook that farmers can tailor to their operations. The produce farm-specific plan is set up as a Google document that can be downloaded as a Word file or copied into your own Google Drive and edited.
Farms are not required to submit their plans to MDA or elsewhere, according to Hart. However, DLI says all farms must produce a plan when asked for it. With the emphasis on human health and safety, it would be good for farms with employees to have one.
“Farms with 10 or more employees are subject to OSHA standards so it would be in their best interest to have a plan, “Hart says.
For additional information or assistance in developing a plan, businesses can contact Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration Workplace Safety Consultation at 651-284-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.