The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Department of Health are reminding agritourism businesses that they must adhere to the COVID-19 New York Forward guidance. This includes pick-your-own fruit and vegetable operations and other on-farm activities, such as corn mazes, hayrides and more, that are open to the public. These businesses are permitted to be open as long as they set capacity limits, alert customers to and enforce social distancing and face mask requirements. New York State is actively partnering with local municipalities to enforce the NY Forward requirements across all industries in New York.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We want these farms open and operating and the public to be able to take advantage of these great family activities, but we need everyone to follow the guidelines to keep New Yorkers safe. This includes making sure businesses are capping capacity and ensuring that patrons are practicing social distancing and wearing masks. Together, we can continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.”
“Picking your own fruits and vegetables directly from farms is a great outdoor family activity that encourages healthy eating and supports local agriculture, but please stay safe,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Remember to avoid large crowds, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. While New Yorkers have done a great job reducing the spread of COVID-19, recent pockets of cases have shown us that we are not out of the woods yet.”
In September, Governor Cuomo announced new state guidance for agritourism businesses, allowing families to enjoy their favorite fall activities while providing a boost for our farming communities and local economies in a responsible and safe manner. These on-farm activities are considered low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment and have been permitted to operate under New York's NY Forward guidance.
All farms that are hosting the public for pick-your-own operations, corn mazes and more are specifically subject to the Low Risk Outdoor Arts and Entertainment and Public Transportation guidance. Guidance includes, but is not limited to:
- Reduced capacity
- Face coverings required
- Social distance maintained between individuals/parties
The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets has conducted outreach on the New York Forward guidance to its agritourism farm operations. Additional guidance on cleaning and sanitizing for these facilities can be found here.
In addition, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Small Farms Program has made available a resource to assist farms ensure compliance. Best practices can be found here: https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/resources/farm-resilience/best-management-practices-for-agritourism-covid/.
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has issued a full slate of guidelines for the agricultural industry, including guidance for farmers' markets and for its food and beverage producers. All guidance can be found at https://agriculture.ny.gov/coronavirus.