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Maryland Department of Agriculture Guides For Protecting Farm Workers

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

By Nicole Cook

Image is a red barn with white fencing and the title below the image is “COVID-19 Facility/Site Compliance: Agricultural Safe Business Practices, Face Covering & Social Distancing Compliance Checklist.”  Image is from the cover of Maryland Department of Agriculture’s guide entitled same.
Image from guide by MDA

As Maryland continues reopening following weeks of stay-at-home restrictions, and farms begin welcoming their summer farmworkers, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture (MDA) has developed short, easy-to-understand, practical resources to help farms reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guides provide step-by-step checklists for ensuring that employers have thought about and taken steps to protect their workers’ health, and what to do if their workers become sick. All of the guides also include information about resources that are available in languages other than English. More information about the guides and links to access them are provided below.

  • SAFE BUSINESS PRACTICES, FACE COVERING & SOCIAL DISTANCING COMPLIANCE CHECKLIST – This checklist can be used as a tool to evaluate COVID-19 safe business practices for farm facilities including hand washing, social distancing, communication protocols with workers, leave and absence protocols, signage, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting practices, transport and delivery best practices, and worker housing and bunking area best practices.

  • TEMPORARY WORKER HOUSING COVID-19 GUIDANCE – This guidance lays out steps farm employers who provide temporary workers with housing can take to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and how to prepare for an outbreak among workers.

  • AGRICULTURAL WORKFORCE TRAINING – This guide provides step-by-step information about how to talk to your farm workers about COVID-19 so they understand how the virus spreads, how to lower their risk of becoming infected, and how to recognize when they might be experiencing symptoms of infection.

  • FARMS AND ON-FARM DELIVERIES AND PICK-UPS – This guidance includes MDA’s recommendations for limiting exposure and risk to workers, the public and your animals when deliveries are made to your farm, when your workers are making deliveries, or when your workers are picking up items to bring back to your farm.

  • MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORKFORCE – This is a checklist all agricultural employers can use to be sure they’re implementing all necessary precautions to protect their workers.

These guides and all of MDA’s COVID-19 resources can be found on MDA's COVID-19 Resources webpage.

Information from MDA about developing procedures to operate a farmers market and information for farmers interested in being included in an interactive map that helps people find local farms with direct sales is in this March 24th post.

You can also find links to these guides and several of MDA’s other COVID-19 resources as well as information about COVID-19 risk management resources including financial support programs and food safety on ALEI’s website by clicking on the “COVID-19 Resources” link and by searching this blog for “COVID.”

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