Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Testing for Seasonal Agricultural Workers
New Testing Initiative in Five Counties

We are pleased to announce that the Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Health, and Labor are partnering with local health departments, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Farm Bureau, and our community health partners - in Clinton, Genesee, Orleans, Ulster and Wayne counties - to offer free COVID-19 testing to agricultural workers. These counties were selected for this opportunity due to the number of out-of-state workers coming into them over the next several weeks.

Please read the documents below for an overview of the program, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.


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Last Updated: 4:00 pm, September 10, 2020
What You Need to Know

Governor Cuomo has outlined a plan to reopen New York State. The plan focuses on getting people back to work and easing social isolation without triggering renewed spread of the virus or overwhelming the hospital system. New York will reopen on a regional basis as each region meets the criteria necessary to protect public health as businesses reopen. 

Learn more about New York's reopening plan and the agricultural industry:

NY Forward

In addition, please read the guidance that the agricultural industry needs to know. The Department is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19, and we will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.


Mass Gatherings
  • New York State has not restricted food producing farms, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, retail food stores, food pantries, food banks, and food and beverage manufacturing facilities from being open. This includes grocery stores and retail food stores within malls. These operations are exempt under the mass gatherings guidance as essential food supply chain industries.
Workforce Reduction
  • Food producing farms, fisheries, operations that care for animals, farmers’ markets, food and beverage manufacturers/processors, grocery stores, retail food stores, food pantries, food banks, gas stations, convenience stores, and forest products businesses are exempt from the state’s guidance for workforce reduction.
Information About Essential Businesses
  • Essential businesses can continue operating – to check if your business is designated as essential, visit ESD's guidance page.
  • Horticulture businesses, including greenhouse operations, nurseries, sod farms, and arborists, are now permitted to reopen statewide, in all regions. Please read the interim guidance for horticulture businesses
  • Landscaping is open statewide; permissible activities have been expanded to include the care and planting of grasses, sod, plants, shrubs, and trees and the mulching, trimming, and removal of these items for disease, safety, and public health purposes.  
    • Transportation of equipment and materials necessary to meet any of the above functions and irrigation to maintain plant health is permissible.  
  • Gardening is open statewide; permissible activities include the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, herbs, fruit, trees, shrubs, etc., at home and community settings and locations.
  • Horticulture and landscaping businesses must follow the Non-Food Related Agriculture Summary Guidelines and Read and Affirm Detailed Guidelines for Non-food Agriculture.
  • Everyone should continue to practice social distancing and proper hand washing and sanitizing of their facilities. See the buttons below for industry-specific guidance.
Department Inspections
  • New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets staff continue to conduct all food safety, dairy, and plant inspections. 


Additional information and resources on topics like pets, protocols for food manufacturers and retail food stores, obtaining a business waiver, and more are available below. In addition, please see our guidance document of general resources for the agriculture community.