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COVID-19 Resources for RI Farmers

The Rhode Island Division of Agriculture is following guidance issued by the Governor's office, Department of Administration; White House and other federal partners including: freeze on non-essential employee business travel outside of the state; staff is utilizing teleworking where possible; utilizing teleconference and online collaboration with out-of-state colleagues when possible; and postponing and/or cancelling events.

We are actively speaking with producers and various agricultural organizations across the state in order to minimize the negative impact on growers and address your concerns and issues. Please continue to communicate your questions and concerns to us. We will do our best to respond and share as much information as we can during this time.

In addition, DEM has implemented a Department plan which complies with all applicable internal agency policies and state regulations. Staff are aware and are ready to follow procedures to ensure functions critical to the division and industry needs are met and carried out in the interest of public safety and public health. Critical functions include:

  • Investigation of animal welfare complaints, responding to animal health events, enforcement of state animal importation regulations that are in place to protect both animal and public health, and support of our sister agencies such as the Department of Health, RIEMA, and DEM/Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Law Enforcement as they carry out their critical missions;

  • Conducting certification of agricultural commodities in order to facilitate their movement and sales. This includes inspection and phytosanitary certification of plant material for domestic and international shipment, and organic certification of agricultural crops and livestock;

  • Providing critical Produce Safety education, outreach, technical assistance. Investigating any complaints or for-cause produce inspections. Providing support for produce farms to allow for market access.

Agritourism FAQs ENG Agritourism FAQs ESP

Reopening RI

Agricultural businesses that have an indoor retail stores are subject to and must follow the current guidance for retail stores. If the business also has outdoor agri-tourism operations (i.e. corn maze, hayrides, etc.), it should also follow current guidelines for farmer's market, on-farm markets, agri-tourism and pick-your-own farms for that portion of its operations. This means that a business may have different applicable guidance for different operations within the business (i.e. capacity limits for indoor operations are likely lower than the outdoor operations). COVID-19 control plans should address all operations within the business to ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of applicable guidelines and current executive orders and RIDOH regulations.

Below we have compiled information from various sources for your reference to help support your business and to protect yourself, employees, and consumers.

COVID-19 Resources

Production of Agriculture and Aquaculture
Food Safety
Food Industry

Online market platforms for farmers

Labor & Employer Resources
USDA H2A Labor and COVID-19

Employer Action Steps: Your farm workforce is not immune to coronavirus, please begin taking steps to protect yourself and your employees.

Talk with your employees about coronavirus, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected.

Print the CDC factsheets and posters, post in your workplace and employee housing facilities.

Provide guidance to help employees clean and disinfect employer-provided housing. Follow up with employees and manage the process to be sure that this happens. Set up a regular weekly and daily schedule for cleaning and view the CDC guidance for cleaning homes.

Clean and disinfect your workplace. The employee break room and bathroom are great places for viruses to be transmitted. Clean and disinfect any areas where employees congregate or routinely touch items such as doorknobs and computer keyboards. Set up daily and weekly cleaning schedules.

Provide cleaning supplies such as cleaning solutions, buckets, mops, brushes, etc for cleaning at work and for those living in employer-provided housing. (CDC list of approved antimicrobial cleaning products)

Review your sick leave policy. The first advice for people who are sick is to stay home except to get medical care. Do you provide paid sick leave for your employees? If you do not, will employees feel financially obligated to come to work even if they are sick?

Communicate with employees that they should stay home if they are sick. Employees sometimes come to work believing they will face punishment or firing if they miss work. Be sure your employees understand that their health and that of their co-workers’ comes first. Communicate and make a plan to cover for sick employees. CDC provides posters in English and Spanish covering symptoms of novel coronavirus.

Prepare your disaster contingency plan. What will you do if 50% of your employees become sick and unable to work? Are there neighboring farms who might be able to share resources in an emergency? Who will manage for a few weeks if you or another key manager are unable to leave your house or are hospitalized?

Cornell provides the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) to provide community education resources across the entire disaster cycle of preparedness, response, and recovery. Penn State also provides farm disaster preparedness resources.

Business Services
COVID-19 Resources: General Information

Stay Informed

For the most up-to-date information from the State of Rhode Island on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, visit The RI Department of Health's COVID-19 Page. General questions can also be answered by calling 401-222-8022 (or 211 after business hours) for assistance. The hotline is only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seek treatment.

Contact Produce Safety
Ananda Fraser, Produce Safety Program Coordinator
RI Department of Environmental Management
Division of Agriculture
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908-5767
Phone: (401) 222-2781 ext. 72411
Abigail Phillips, Programming Service Officer
RI Department of Environmental Management
Division of Agriculture
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908-5767
Phone: (401) 222-2781 ext. 74501
Christopher Rueckel, Agriculture Marketing Specialist
RI Department of Environmental Management
Division of Agriculture
235 Promenade Street
Providence, RI 02908-5767
Phone: (401) 222-2781 ext. 74510