COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on all industries, including agriculture and the US food system. The resources provided below are intended to help agricultural businesses prevent and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 to employees and business operations. If you have specific questions about the guidance or worker health and safety on your ag business, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 Technical Support for Dairies
Are you looking for help implementing or understanding COVID-19 precautions on your dairy farm? A team of regional collaborators received funding from the USDA to assist dairies in responding to COVID-19 and promoting worker health, safety, and well-being. Currently this team is offering webinars/virtual Q&A sessions for producers and herdsmen in Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, and Texas. The webinars are available in English, Spanish, and K’iche. View recorded webinars and other resources. For more information or to request assistance, contact Dr. Anabel Rodriguez at 956-735-1635.
In South Dakota, SDSU Dairy Extension is offering COVID-19 educational seminars for dairy farm employees, focused on vaccine information. For more information or to schedule a session, contact Dr. Maristela Rovai at Maristela.Rovai@sdstate.edu or 605-688-5488. The team is also providing information through this Spanish-language Facebook page.
CDC and US Department of Labor Guidance for the Ag Sector
On June 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor jointly issued COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Agricultural Workers and Employers (Spanish version). (This guidance was most recently updated on February 2, 2021.)
This guidance provides a template of action to protect agriculture workers from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Agricultural employers can adapt these recommendations to protect workers at their particular work sites or in specific work operations.
Agricultural Employer Checklist for Creating a COVID-19 Assessment and Control Plan. To prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, agricultural employers can use this checklist to create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan for applying specific preparation, prevention, and management measures.
State and National Resources (including testing)
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (English PDF)
- Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (Spanish PDF)
- General COVID-19 information from OSHA
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): General COVID-19 information from USDA
- Colorado Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Information
- COVID-19 Guidance for the Agricultural Industry from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (Spanish version)
- COVID-19 Testing Information for Colorado People who are part of a high-risk job category can call 303-692-2700 to be directed to a testing facility.
- Montana Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Information
- Contact your primary care physician for testing information.
- North Dakota Department of Agriculture General COVID-19/Coronavirus Information
- North Dakota Department of Agriculture – COVID-19 Guidance for Agriculture
- COVID-19 Testing Locations in North Dakota
- South Dakota COVID-19 Information or call the South Dakota COVID Information Line: 1-800-997-2880
- South Dakota Department of Agriculture COVID-19 Resources
- South Dakota Ag Producer Resource List (4/27/20)
- Wyoming COVID-19 Information
- Wyoming Department of Agriculture – COVID-19 Guidance for Livestock Markets
- COVID-19 testing: testing site finder and free at-home testing information ($150 fee is waived for Wyoming residents at checkout)
COVID-19 Vaccine Information
How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?
Video: How Adenovector Vaccines Work [3 minutes, English] (Johnson & Johnson vaccine)
Video: How do mRNA Vaccines Work? [1 minute, English] (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines)
How do the COVID-19 vaccines work? How were they approved so quickly? How was it determined that they are effective and safe? Get the answers to these questions from vaccine research experts at Colorado State University in this recorded community Q&A session.
COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions: This 20-minute video discusses common vaccine questions including how they work, how to get one, and what to expect. Available in English, Spanish, and K’iche (coming soon).
Vaccine distribution, delivery, and availability is coordinated at the state and tribal level. Use these links to find out the specific plan for your area.
Colorado: COVID-19 Vaccine / COVID-19 Vacuna
Food and Ag Workers – Phase 1B.3: CURRENTLY ELIGBILE (as of 3/5/2021)
A list of all vaccine providers and community vaccination events in Colorado is located here. Small ag employers needing help connecting with a vaccine provider to vaccinate employees can fill out this form. Vaccine providers specifically serving ag workers and communities include:
- Salud Family Health Centers – schedule an appointment. Employers: to schedule a clinic hosted by the mobile unit, contact Deb Salazar (Northeastern Colorado)
- Sunrise Community Health (including monthly Latino Equity Clinics co-organized by the Latino Coalition of Weld County and many others) (Evans/Greeley, Loveland)
- Valley-Wide Health Systems: Check COVID-19 Updates page for details and use the vaccine appointment online sign-up. (San Luis Valley)
- MarillacHealth: Grand Junction vaccine clinic information and online sign-up.
- State-run mobile clinic information
Montana: COVID-19 Vaccine Availability and Resources
Food and Ag Workers – part of general population 16+: CURRENTLY ELIGIBLE (as of 4/1/2021)
South Dakota: South Dakota Department of Health – COVID-19 Vaccine Information / COVID-19 Recursos en Español
Food and Ag Workers – Phase 1E: CURRENTLY ELIGBILE (as of 3/22/2021)
North Dakota: North Dakota Department of Health – COVID-19 Information
Workers enabling access to human food – Phase 1C: CURRENTLY ELIGBILE (as of 3/22/2021) though eligibility varies by location. See the “Priority Group” column on North Dakota’s vaccine locator for more information.
Wyoming: Wyoming Department of Health – COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Food Supply Chain Workers – Phase 1b/1c: CURRENTLY ELIGBILE (as on 3/22/2021) See county-specific vaccine information here for appointment sign-ups.
- Indian Health Service COVID-19 Vaccine Planning
- CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Information
- Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination for Essential Workers (CDC)
COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers: In some states, essential workers already have access to vaccines to help protect them against COVID-19. These vaccines will be available to essential workers across the nation soon. CDC has provided a toolkit to help employers educate their essential workers about this important new prevention tool. Specific items that may be helpful for ag businesses include:
Assessment and Screening of People
Workplace screening: Pre-screening procedures include taking temperatures and assessing any symptoms prior to starting work. Ideally, this should be done before entering a facility.
Employees should be sent home if:
- If they have a temperature of 100.4 F or greater OR they feel feverish; OR
- If they have had any symptoms in the last 24 hours.
Sick workers: Discourage employees with symptoms from coming to work. Any employees who feel ill or start showing symptoms while at work should be sent home.
Return to work: Determine a plan for when employees with symptoms and/or a positive test can return to work. See resources below to help create a plan.
COVID-19 testing information for each state (if available) is in the State and National Resources section above.
- CDC Guidance: Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Worker Who May Have Had Exposures to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
- CDC Guidance: Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Not in Healthcare Settings
- Find a Health Center near you
- Paid Leave & Corresponding Employer Tax Credits in COVID-19 Federal Legislation (as of 4/6/20)
- Recommended Protocols for Dairy Farms When an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
- How We Feel App: A citizen science project to help with early detection of hot spots and outbreaks.
Worksite Assessment and Controls
Conduct an initial worksite assessment to identify COVID-19 risks and prevention strategies. Complete additional assessments periodically to identify and respond to any changes. (Webinar: Control Plan Do’s and Don’ts for Produce Growers)
Cleaning and disinfection: Develop sanitation protocols for daily cleaning and sanitation. Identify high touch and high traffic areas that require additional cleaning and/or cleaning between shifts: break rooms, locker rooms, vehicles, bathrooms, time clocks, etc.
- CDC Guidance: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
- COVID-19: Cleaning and Dinfecting Your Farming Operation
- Webinar: Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting Your Produce Farm (Slides)
- EPA List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
- Using Disinfectants to Control the COVID-19 Virus
Social distancing: Since COVID-19 is spread primarily from person-to-person, adapting work tasks to maintain adequate social distance (6 feet or 2 meters) is vital to preventing spread on your farm, ranch, or dairy. Think critically about how to discourage employees from congregating in common areas like break rooms, kitchens, locker rooms, bathrooms, and entryways and during meetings.
- CDC’s Guidance on Social Distancing
- Cattle Processing in an Unusual Year
- COVID-19: Social Distancing on Your Farming Operation
Hand hygiene: Encourage employees to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Provide additional hand washing stations and access to hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not immediately available.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for disinfection procedures according to the information on the product label or Safety Data Sheet.
Gloves: Gloves should be worn during cleaning and sanitation procedures according the instructions of the product being used. If relevant, gloves may also be worn at the point of sale when handling money and providing food directly to customers.
Respirators: Filtering facepiece respirators and elastomeric respirators (with P100-level particulate protection) do provide adequate protection against COVID-19. Due to limited supply, these respirators are being prioritized for healthcare workers. If you already have these respirators in your supply, they may be used for infection control; however, at this time, CDC discourages the purchase of new respirators for this use.
Respirator shortage: Due to high demand for respiratory protection in health care settings, respirator supplies are limited. However, you are still required by law to wear respiratory protection/provide respiratory protection to employees for hazardous tasks in agriculture such as pesticide application, in dusty environments, and more. See the resources below for information on dealing with this shortage.
- EPA Statement on Respiratory Protection Shortage and Reduced Availability of Fit Testing (June 1, 2020)
- Respirator Decision Tree: English / Spanish
- Respiratory Protection During the COVID-19 Pandemic / Protección Respiratoria Durante la Pandemia COVID-19: Conservación de provisiones de respiradores
- Video: Disinfecting Half-Face Elastomeric Respirators / Vídeo: Desinfectar Su Respirador de Media Cara
- FDA: Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings in the Food and Agriculture Sector During Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic
Colorado businesses, including ag operations, can request PPE through their county’s emergency manager. Find your county’s contact information.
Cloth Face Coverings
Cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Face coverings should be worn in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain (For example: during certain harvesting or processing activities).
- Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Adapting tasks to maintain appropriate distancing should be prioritized; and
- Cloth face coverings are not a suitable replacement for preventing exposure to workplace hazards requiring the use of a respirator (pesticide application, dusty environments, etc.).
Cleaning: Reusable cloth face coverings should be washed between users. Follow CDC’s recommendations for how to wash cloth face coverings.
Wearing a cloth face covering does not increase the risk of heat related illness; however, employees may experience anxiety or discomfort while wearing a face covering. Increase the frequency of water and break times as employees become acclimated to wearing face coverings.
In situations where employers provide housing, review these additional considerations to ensure the health of employers in these facilities:
- Provide additional hand soap and cleaning/disinfection supplies.
- Establish cleaning and disinfection procedures for high touch surfaces and shared spaces such as sleeping quarters, kitchens, eating areas, bathrooms, and laundry facilities.
- Allow for 6ft separation whenever possible, including sleeping arrangements.
- Establish daily health checks.
- Create a plan for isolating residents with COVID-19.
- Shared Housing and COVID-19: Everyday Tips for Extraordinary Times
- Farmworker Housing Simulator This simulation tool is designed to show how easily a virus can spread among farmworkers based on room size and how beds are arranged in their housing. It also suggests alternative room arrangements to help prevent or reduce the spread of illness within a shared space.
- Guidance on COVID-19 Housing for H-2A/H-1B Workers from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Guidance for Fruit and Vegetable Operations:
Considerations to Protect Seasonal Workers Supporting Fruit and Vegetable Operations during Harvesting and Processing and in Shared/Communal Housing During COVID-19
Shared Transportation and Vehicles
Transportation to and from the worksite:
If employees provide their own transportation, discourage carpooling. Where possible, advise employees to ride alone or be dropped off by a family member. When this is not possible, encourage them to wear a cloth face covering when riding in a vehicle with another person.
If employer provides transportation, make adjustments to provide for adequate social distancing and
- Do not sit a person in every seat
- Increase the number of trips or the number of vehicles
- Encourage all riders to wear a cloth face covering
Disinfecting vehicles: Utilize CDC’s guidance for disinfecting non-emergency transport vehicles to clean and disinfect all farm vehicles and transportation vehicles. All vehicles should be disinfected between users/riders, or at minimum once per day. Conduct thorough disinfection of high touch surfaces: operator controls, seat belts, door handles, air vents, window controls, armrests, etc.
Youth on Farms
Due to closure of schools and limited availability of childcare, be aware of increased presence of children and youth on farms. Establish and enforce policies that restrict children from worksites.
If hiring youth, ensure to follow labor laws and assign age-appropriate tasks. Provide additional supervision and guidance to youth on minimizing COVID-19 exposures.
- All communication and training for workers should be easy to understand and should be provided in languages appropriate to the preferred languages spoken or read by those receiving the training.
- Document training topics and training attendance. Utilize this training log for your records.
- Maintain social distancing while training. Train in small groups and outdoors, where possible. If utilizing videos, allow workers to watch individually on their mobile devices.
The links below are to video resources that can be used as training tools. Language is indicated for each video.
- NC State Extension Videos 3-part series [Spanish]
- COVID-19: Información Basica para Trabajadores de Lecheria/ COVID-19: Basic Information for Dairy Workers [Spanish with English Subtitles]
Cleaning and Disinfection
- Prevención de COVID-19: Limpiar y desinfectar [Spanish]
- Guia para limpiar y desinfectar casas para prevenir COVID19 [Spanish]
- COVID-19 Prevention: Cleaning and Disinfecting [English]
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Disinfecting Half-Face Elastomeric Respirators [English]
- Desinfectar Su Respirador de Media Cara [Spanish]
Cloth Face Coverings
Additional Spanish Resources
Síntomas del coronavirus (COVID-19) (Symptoms of coronavirus/COVID-19)
Lo Que Necesita Saber Del Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) en Su Lecheria (What You Need to Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Your Dairy)
COVID-19 Y La Salud En Las Engordas (COVID-19 and Health on the Feedlot)
Indicaciones para mitigar la propagación del coronavirus (Suggestions for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus)
Stress Management and Mental Health Resources
Coping with COVID-19 stress from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health – Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During and Infectious Disease Outbreak – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Webinar Series – 6 Weeks to Improve Resiliency for Farmers
Free, 30-minute online sessions provided by Lauren Ziegler of My Still Life. More information about each session is available from the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
- Week 1 – Resilience: Navigating Changes (Watch)
- Week 2 – Managing Daily Aches & Pains (Watch)
- Week 3 – Hands-on Tools for Stress Management (Watch)
- Week 4 – Exercises During Work (Watch)
- Week 5 – Tools for Insomnia (Watch)
- Week 6 – Lifestyle for High Performance Moving Forward (Watch)
Signs and Symptoms of Stress – Signs and Symptoms of Stress from the Upper Midwest Ag Safety and Health Center
Regional Crisis Services
Colorado Crisis Services: 1-844-493-8255
Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline (Dakotas): 1-800-691-4336
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Point of Sale Safety
U.S. Small Business Administration Coronavirus Relief Options: Information on federal relief options created through the CARES Act.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP): The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. CFAP 2 reopened on April 5, 2021. Apply through local Farm Service Agency (FSA). (FSA Webinars on the CFAP)
Colorado Farm and Food Systems Respond and Rebuild Fund: Funding requests must be directly attributed to the COVID-19 event, focused on recovering demonstrated losses or a business model pivot. Application period is currently closed.
Montana Coronavirus Relief Options: A comprehensive resource for Montanans to identify whether they qualify for financial relief.