Coronavirus and COVID-19 Resources

Agritourism Guidelines During COVID*

(*UPDATED 10/14 to Include Indoor Farmer’s Markets)

These guidance documents covers some of the major questions which have been asked such as:

– What COVID-19 Guidance should farms follow?
– Is physical distancing needed on hayrides and in corn mazes?
– Can agri-tourism operations still host birthday parties or other group gatherings?

They also includes the links to the associated guidance documents on Reopening RI.

Agritourism FAQ’s (11.06.20)

Phase III guidelines for farmer’s markets, on-farm markets and agritourism, and pick-your-own farms (10.14.20)

Agritourism Frequently Asked updated with Farmers-Market_P3-update-10.14.20-Final-003

Guidance Clarification

Agricultural businesses that have indoor retail stores are subject to, and must follow, the current guidance for retail stores. If the business also has outdoor agri-tourism operations (i.e. corn maze, hayrides, etc.), it should also follow current guidelines for farmer’s market, on-farm markets, agri-tourism and pick-your-own farms for that portion of its operations. This means that a business may have different applicable guidance for different operations within the business (i.e. capacity limits for indoor operations are likely lower than the outdoor operations). COVID-19 Control Plans should address all operations within the business to ensure proper monitoring and enforcement of applicable guidelines, current executive orders, and RIDOH regulations.
COVID-19 Plan Requirements & Resources
All currently operating businesses must have:
– COVID-19 Control Plan – Completed and signed

– Business State Guidance Review Checklist – Completed, signed and postedThese plans do not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must made available to the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) in the
event of an inspection or outbreak.

– Required Entry Signage – Posted

– Required Face Covering, Social Distancing, Employee/Visitor Screening (recommended Covid-19 Screening Tool)
Visit for more Vital Workplace Resources Or for helpful posters

Additional Guidance

(there may be updates on RI DEM site or Reopening RI)

COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Farms and On-Farm Deliveries
COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Critical Animal Guidance (includes equestrian)
COVID-19 GUIDANCE: Guidance for Businesses with Seasonal Workers Housed in Communal Living Arrangements 

If you have any questions on the above guidance, please feel free to email or call the office at 401-385-3339 and we will help you to get answers.

Latest FSA Announcements
& Program Deadlines:

FSA Deadlines:
  • December 31st, Deadline to insure your Specialty Type Crops; Honey, Maple sap under NAP.

Please feel free to pass this information on.  If producers wish to stay up-to-date on new programs, important program deadlines, program eligibility requirements, changes in federal farm program policy etc. Subscribe to receive email notifications from FSA online at Text messages: Receive text message alerts from FSA while on the go. To enroll to receive text message alerts from Rhode Island text RIKent to 372-669.

Please visit our state website including USDA’s for the latest program information and updates.

If there are questions related to the latest announcements please feel free to contact me via e-mail at  If there are any questions related to the upcoming deadlines mentioned above, please contact the Rhode Island County FSA Office at 401-828-3120 Option 2.

Bi-Weekly Local Agriculture/Food and COVID-19 Discussion

Join the RI Division of Agriculture and partner organizations to discuss topical COVID-19 resources, concerns, and other relevant information to support our agricultural sector in this difficulty time.

Calls occur every other Tuesday at 1 pm by Zoom, call information is below which stays the same each call.   Notes from previous calls can be found HERENext call is March 2, 2021.  Bi-weekly after that.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 918 3352 8799

Dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

GAP Certification

If you are reading this, you have likely heard of the RI GAP program and know that there is a system in place and support for growers in Rhode Island that may need to undergo a RI GAP audit. We are well into the growing season, but we have developed  a system to facilitate participation in this program for this season.

You can learn more about the RI GAP program by:
1. Visiting The RI Produce Safety Portal
2. Reviewing RI GAP Certification During Covid-19
3. Contacting Ananda Fraser:
Produce Safety Program Coordinator
RI DEM – Division of Agriculture

Need to apply for or renew your pesticide license? 

While pesticide license training is normally done cooperatively with URI, DEM will be doing testing only until on-campus classes resume. Testing is available for all pesticide applicator licenses and categories. There is currently no list of dates as of yet, but exams will be scheduled based on demand.   Study material can be made available for pick up at DEM’s Agriculture office.  For more information on how to take your pesticide license test or to get study materials, please contact or

FMCSA Extends Waiver in Response to the
COVID-19 Emergency –

For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles

FMCSA has extended, until September 30, 2020, a waiver from certain regulations applicable to interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders and to other interstate drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The Agency has initiated this action in response to the President’s declaration of a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b) related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Coronavirus Financial Relief Options from SBA

In addition to traditional SBA funding programs, the CARES Act established several new temporary programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rhode Island Food Policy Council
COVID-19 Links

In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Rhode Island Food Policy Council has aggregated information on available food access and food business resources and opportunities. 

CFAP Webinars for Ag Producers 

Webinar Dates & Topics:

These FSA Webinars are all completed.  Archived webinars may be found at the above link as well as here.

Farm Credit East Resource Hub 

Providing information relevant to Northeast Ag and customers of Farm Credit East.  Includes information regarding the Paycheck Protection Plan, CARES Act basics, tax planning , payroll, webinars and reports on COVID-19.

Unsure How to Transition to Online Ordering
or Working from Home?

Many businesses are struggling to transform their technology to continue operating during the suppression phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.  RI Commerce Corporation has partnered with Rhode Island tech leaders to offer free coaching sessions to make this transformation easier. If you’d like help, get more information here. There is help available to help people set up a home office, transition to work from home, to get a website or even online ordering set up. Please take a look, they have so much to offer!

Rhode Island Farmers: Become an
authorized SNAP retailer

Rhode Island farmers: you can open a new market for your business while helping your less fortunate neighbors during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn how to apply to be an authorized retailer to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — formerly Food Stamp Program) benefits. This will allow you to accept SNAP benefits at your retail farm stand, CSA, and through home delivery. Click here for the Guidebook.

Advice for Ag Transport Across State Lines

At this time, there is no indication farmers are being stopped while performing ag operations across state lines.  However, to be proactive, we are providing the following using the link HERE and from the above title:

Letter for Farms to fill out and carry identifying themselves as critical industry

Letters providing Guidance for Ag operations in all Northeast states.  We advise you carry the letter(s) from any state you are traveling to/through for your farm business.

In addition, please use this link for Interstate Livestock Shipping Requirements


Official Guidance on Food and Agriculture
as Critical Industry

from the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

The link above provides guidance and identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing management functions, among others. The industries they support represent, but are not necessarily limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.

Printable letter for official guidance (March 28 update).

USDA Issues Emergency Provisions for Milk Dumping and Supply/Demand Flexibility
Due to COVID-19

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is prepared to take actions within the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) to facilitate the disposal of milk or provide flexibility to meet increased retail demand due to changes in supply and demand from COVID-19. Actions will initially be for the time period of March-May, as needed. Any requests should be made to the local Market Administrator.

USDA Rural Development takes immediate action to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

• Beginning immediately, through July 31, 2020, USDA Business and Industry Loan Guarantees (B&I) and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Guaranteed lenders may assist borrowers experiencing temporary cash flow issues by deferring payments for a period no longer than 120 days. The lender must notify The Agency in writing of any payment deferments. Written notification to the Agency will meet the standard for concurrence until July 31, 2020. A response from the Agency is not required. This guidance applies to ALL borrowers that had a current repayment status as of March 1, 2020.

• RBCS intermediary borrowers continue to have authority to service loan portfolios independent of USDA. Intermediary borrowers participating in these programs may approve loan payment deferrals may to their borrowers without USDA approval. These programs are:

 Intermediary Relending Program (IRP)

 Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG)

 Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDL and REDG)

 Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP)

• For existing Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and Rural Economic Development Loan (REDL) borrowers, the Agency is committed to maintaining well-capitalized intermediary lenders and will work with you on loan servicing requests on a case-by-case basis to make sure you remain a pillar in our rural business communities.


USDA is extending the application window for the following programs:

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

• USDA extended the application deadline for the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program to no later than April 15, 2020.

• USDA extended the application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to April 15, 2020

Local Producers, Farmers Markets Play Important Role in Feeding Population During Coronavirus Crisis

There’s a rush on food and essentials at stores, both large and small. Many shelves are bare but some aisles are still packed, as people pick over what remains after panic-induced hoarding. But the thing to note is the fact that grocery stores are still open, still peddling what they can — though you’ll likely be hard-pressed to find pasta, frozen vegetables, cleaning products, and toilet paper.

So what role can farmers markets and local producers play during the coronavirus pandemic? A big one.