Building Resilience During COVID-19 Requires Diligence

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked with farmers to help build resilience for their businesses. In building resilience, we must also remain diligent in maintaining health and safety requirements. 

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Health are reminding agritourism businesses that they must adhere to the COVID-19 New York Forward guidance. This comes in response to a recent outbreak associated with a NY agritourism farm. 

“We want these farms open and operating and the public to be able to take advantage of these great family activities, but we need everyone to follow the guidelines to keep New Yorkers safe. This includes making sure businesses are capping capacity and ensuring that patrons are practicing social distancing and wearing masks,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “Together, we can continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.”

All farms that are hosting the public for pick-your-own operations, corn mazes and more are specifically subject to the Low Risk Outdoor Arts and Entertainment and Public Transportation guidance. Guidance includes, but is not limited to: reduced capacity; face coverings required; and social distance maintained between individuals/parties.

In addition, we have created “Best Management Practices for Agritourism Farms During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This document provides management and communication strategies for agritourism activities for the 2020 season to support your farms as you navigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, farmers have reported higher numbers at their U-Pick farms, as customers yearn for time outdoors with their families and friends. In light of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices are needed to operate your agritourism ventures safely. This will take some more planning, possibly adding more staff to your team and training those staff to help manage activities to ensure physical distancing and face covering use by customers who visit.

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.