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General Safety Guidance

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Updated Farm/Farmworker COVID-19 Guidance Released by New York State  

The New York State Departments of Health, Labor and Agriculture and Markets released today revised farm and farmworker guidance documents for COVID-19 prevention and response, in addition to a farm operator checklist to help maintain a healthy workforce. New York Farm Bureau has been working to obtain the release of these documents over the recent weeks.

Links to the documents in English are below, 


Links to Spanish versions are below:  



Communicating Basic Hygiene to Farm Employees

Workplace safety is critical. DO NOT DELAY IF YOU HAVEN’T DISCUSSED THIS WITH YOUR WORKFORCE. NYCAMH has issued guidance for employers to speak about COVID-19 with their employees, including Spanish language instruction for migrant employees. Hand washing is a first defense against protecting oneself and others from Coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.


Here are a few tips when communicating hand hygiene basics to farm employees:  

1. Keep It Simple. More than half of U.S. adults have limited literacy skills, and 9 out of 10 have trouble understanding complex health information.  

2. Show. When it comes to hand washing, show how it’s done. We recommend the following CDC videos:  

In English: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/videos.html

In Spanish: https://www.cdc.gov/cdctv/spanish/healthyliving/acabe-con-los-microbios.html

If your workers have the ability to watch on their phones, text them the link. They can then re-watch at home and share with friends and family.


Illustrated posters on personal hygiene are available in English and Spanish

3. REPEAT. Continue to remind workers to wash their hands. Place simple signs or posters in key locations, such as in bathrooms, entryways, exits, where they cook, and where they clock in or out.


Cornell Ag Workforce Resources

Please check out the COVID-19 webpage for Cornell CALS’ Agricultural Workforce Development Program. It includes frequent updates on guidance, webinars and human resource info to help your business and employee needs. Click here for more info.


Spanish Language COVID Training Video for Farmworkers

Spanish-speaking farmworkers can learn about COVID-19 and needed precautions, both at home and at work. This video produced by Libby Eiholzer of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Lisa Ford of Cayuga Marketing, and Anna Meyerhoff, of NY Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) was developed especially for agricultural workers. The audio is in Spanish, but subtitles are available in English through closed captioning. Click here to view.


A Notice from NYCAMH: Free Diagnostic Testing for People who Work in Agriculture

As New York State’s capacity to test for COVID-19 is expanding, “essential employees”—including those who work in agriculture—are being prioritized for diagnostic testing, according to the NYS Department of Health’s revised guidance. (See “Can I Be Tested?” at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing).


This means that if you own or work on a farm operation and would like to get free testing, you should be able to schedule an appointment for a free diagnostic test at a state testing facility. To request an appointment, “essential workers,” which includes anyone working in production agriculture, can complete an assessment at https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov/ or contact the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065.


Potential COVID-19 Risk Factors for Farmers and Employees

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) would like to make farmers aware of the unique factors that may put them at increased risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19. Even though most farmers in New York live outside the major ‘hot-spot’ areas, there is still reason to be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing, and using fabric face coverings in public. COVID-19 positive patients have been reported in every single New York State county.   


While some people experience little to no symptoms though they have COVID-19, people who are older, have asthma, are men, or have underlying health conditions are at increased risk of severe illness. NYCAMH research published in 2015 showed that Upstate New York farmers (men) had an increased rate of asthma and uncontrolled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) over their rural male neighbors. No surprise, the latest Census of Agriculture also shows our farmers are growing older, and the majority of those in farming are still men, who are at higher risk.  


While farmers are so often willing to take care of everyone else first, please don’t ignore the important symptoms of COVID-19. If you begin to experience fever, dry cough, headaches, or shortness of breath contact your primary healthcare provider. You can also contact the NYS Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065. COVID-19 testing is free in New York State. Need advice on how to cope with the flood of changes that COVID-19 has brought to your family, business and workers? Contact NYCAMH at 1-800-343-7527 or visit its COVID-19 website where they can help with stress management through its Farm Partners Program.


Workforce Guidance & Regulations


Steps Dairy Managers Should Consider to Protect Their Workforce, Business and Markets

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Specialist, Dr. Rich Stup, and Rob Lynch, DVM, of Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY held a webinar to provide dairy farms with important information as it related to protecting their farms during the COVID 19 pandemic. Topics include: why prevention of the coronavirus/COVID-19 is important, steps that employers should take to protect employees, animal health considerations, what to do if service providers are not available, disaster contingency plans, cross-training of employees who can fill other roles, business resources for employers, and pending federal and state legislation related to coronavirus and employees. The webinar is available by clicking here.


COVID-19 Health Coverage for Undocumented Workers

According to a guidance released by The New York State Department of Health, the state will treat all COVID-19-related health services under Medicaid. Accordingly, these expenses will be reimbursed by Medicaid for undocumented New Yorkers.

Medicaid coverage for undocumented immigrants is limited to emergency services only. COVID- 19 lab testing, evaluation, and treatment are emergency services and will be reimbursed by NYS Medicaid for individuals with coverage code “07.” Claims submitted for COVID-19 tests and practitioner. The entire document can be found by clicking here.


Reminder to Employers: New York’s Wage Theft Protection Act

New York passed the Wage Theft Protection Act in 2010. Among other things, it provides written notice of wage rates to each new hire. The notice must include:

Rate or rates of pay, including overtime rate of pay (if it applies); how the employee is paid: by the hour, shift, day, week, commission, etc.; regular payday; official name of the employer and any other names used for business (DBA); address and phone number of the employer's main office or principal location; and allowances taken as part of the minimum wage (tips, meal and lodging deductions).


NYFB reminds its members that if any data in the notice changes, the employer must tell employees at least a week before it happens. For example, in the event your employees are going to receive a reduction in pay during the COVID-19 crisis, you must notify them in writing one week prior to the reduction being implemented. For more information, click here.


Federal Labor and H-2A Guidance/Regulations


Please contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for information on current relief programs. Click here for help locating FSA contact info.


American Farm Bureau Federation Offering COVID-19 Updates

Similar to NYFB’s new webpage devoted to the latest on the Coronavirus, AFBF is also offering a clearinghouse of information on its website. Click here for additional stories and messages from the national organization.