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Resources for Minnesota farmers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Extension’s response plan template

Contributed by: Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator Farm Food Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic took the nation and world by surprise this spring, with many businesses closing or rapidly adjusting in an effort to slow the spread of the SARS-Co-V-2 virus. Farmers, like many other businesses, are seeking information about how the disease is transmitted and how to manage their operations to reduce transmission of the illness among their crews and to the public. Many farms are seeing changes to their operations this year as a result of COVID-19, with many markets such as restaurants and schools abruptly ending or greatly diminishing, while demand from some markets like CSAs, some farmers’ markets and other direct-to-consumer markets dramatically increasing. All farmers are trying to work with the “new normal” of physical distancing and learning new protocols, which might look significantly different from previous years.

To help farms and gardens plan for how they will run their operations to reduce transmission of COVID-19, the University of Minnesota Extension fruit and vegetable and food safety educators and partners at UW Wisconsin Extension created a COVID-19 response plan template for fruit and vegetable farms as well as community gardens. The plan is meant to be a written guide to actions for reducing risk of transmission. It walks users through a series of questions related to their COVID on their operation and offers suggested solutions. Solutions were crowd-sourced from many farms and experts in the region and are not meant to be an exhaustive list of strategies, but a starting point. Many farms and gardens have reported that the template has been useful as a way to start thinking about COVID from a science and risk-based perspective.

The plans are set up as Google documents that you can download as a Word file, or copy into your own Google drive, and then edit and save. The plan document is accompanied by a FAQ. The FAQ is intended to answer questions related to the science of the disease, such as questions around cleaning and sanitizing, masks, and gloves. The FAQ and plan template will be updated regularly as new information and research is available.

The COVID-19 farm template plan:
Spanish version of the farm plan:
The COVID-19 garden template plan:

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