Agriculture and University Extension


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Practice Physical Distancing on the Farm

Farmers and employees interact with each other regularly so need to follow CDC guidelines to minimize risks for themselves and their families.

6 feet distancing


 According to OSHA coronavirus classifications, most farms are classified as lower exposure risk jobs, meaning the job does not require contact with people known to be or suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus. Farmers generally do not have frequent close contact with the general public, either. 

However, farmers and employees interact with each other regularly so need to follow CDC guidelines to minimize risks for themselves and their families. 

ractice CDC physical distancing guidelines on your farm to help prevent an outbreak from occurring 

  • Maintain a 6-foot distance between people whenever possible 
  • Wash hands often 
  • Wear a mask when working around others 
  • Take extra measures to protect workers who may be more vulnerable to illness 
  • Know which employees may be at high risk due to age, underlying conditions or risk situations outside of work. Minimize their exposure to other staff as much as possible. 

Plan daily interactions ahead of time, and practice physical distancing measures for all daily farm tasks 

Set expectations on daily interactions between all employees and what physical distancing measures are to be followed.  
If employees usually meet at the shop in the morning or the evening before everyone goes home, develop alternatives. Communicate with workers how daily meetings may change and how you plan to communicate around the farm. 
Daily plans may be communicated virtually through phone calls, emails or group text messages. 
If in-person meetings are needed, try to meet outside in an open location rather than in a small shop with limited space that won’t allow for physical distancing. If you have space, set chairs apart or mark spots on the floor for distancing. 
Limit the number of employees working on equipment together in the shop as much as possible. However, keep safety in mind so people are not working alone in hazardous situations without someone to assist or call for help. 
Keep high traffic areas clean and disinfected. 
  • Are there enough vehicles where people can drive separately or in pairs as often as possible? Assign equipment, tractors and pickups to individuals as much as possible, especially for those who may be considered higher risk of developing illness. 
  • Limit the number of individuals in vehicles when riding from field to field, and wear a mask when sharing this space. 
  • Limit ride-alongs of non-essential workers or family.  
    • Breakroom and Meals
       -Stagger breaks to minimize the number of individuals in the breakroom at one time, and encourage cleaning and disinfecting between uses.
      - Many farmers gather for meals in the field with each other and family. Large meals and gatherings also may be tradition at brandings. Consider skipping            meal/gatherings. 
    • Farm Pick-ups and Deliveries 

    Many retailers you work with already may have plans for handling deliveries on farms and for pick-up orders. If you haven’t heard from a place you do business with about their safety protocol, connect with them. Propose how you would like to handle your business in case they don’t have a plan. Have a single location for drop-offs at the farm for all deliveries, and clarify how to pick up parts and supplies. 

    New Employees Joining the Farm 

    If you have new employees coming onto the farm from out of state or country, be sure to follow travel quarantine orders on the North Dakota Department of Health website, including quarantining for 14 days. 

    Practice What You Preach 

    Encourage your workers to keep their circles tight, even off the farm. While you cannot control what your employees do on their own time, encourage them to take the threat of spreading illness to others seriously to help minimize exposure. 

    Social Distancing for Livestock Producers

    South Dakota State University Extension has put together a list of common activities in livestock agriculture with some suggestions for social distancing.

    More COVID-19 Farm Safety resources

    Filed under: covid19
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