COVID-19 has already had significant impacts on our food systems and you may be wondering what the Governor’s new “stay at home order” means for your agritourism and u-pick operation.
Governor DeSantis and his team used the Department of Homeland Security “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response” to list services and businesses that will be allowed to operate during the new emergency Executive Order 20-91.
Food and Agriculture are considered essential under the order. And while the Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not find any evidence of coronavirus being transmitted through food, the virus can be spread by close person-to-person contact and possibly by touching contaminated surfaces.
In light of the new order, Commissioner Fried of FDACS’ General Council noted some important information that may impact small to mid-size farms agritourism and u-pick operations:
- On-farm sales of products are allowed to continue.
- U-pick operations are allowed to continue. However, note that On-farm harvesting by the public is a gray area, legally, and if possible should be avoided for public health (and legal liability) purposes. If possible, producers should move to a farm stand model for retail sales.
- Agritourism operations that are not strictly related to food cultivation and production, such as recreation, is prohibited at this time.
- The Governor’s order makes clear that social gatherings are not essential activities and there is a number limit of 10 people in public spaces.
- For Agritourism and U-pick operations that are allowed, there is potential enforcement if more than 10 people congregate.
- General council also noted producers should understand the risks of bringing the public onto your property, especially during these uncertain times. Florida State Agritourism Statute 570.85 -570.89 still stands but in this time of pandemic, not having precautions in place and not knowing who is coming onto your property may be opening yourself up to legal ramifications.
- To learn more about the Florida Agritourism law, read the UF/IFAS EDIS Document “Florida Agritourism Laws”.
- Tips on “How Can Small Farms Cope With COVID-19 Impacts“.
- Read up on Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines on Keeping Commercial Establishments Safe (scroll to page 4).
Contact the FDACS Office of General Counsel with specific questions you may have.
Steven L. Hall
Office of General Counsel
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(850) 617-7744 Fax