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.
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.