While the majority of Southwest Michigan agricultural products typically inviting U-pick customers are still in the growing stages, the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development is preparing for unique rules in light of the current pandemic once the season hits its stride.
With warmer weather on the rise, and Michigan’s U-pick season coming soon, farm operations across the region and the entire state are working so they can safely open and operate in the face of the pandemic. Today, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has outlined key protocols that U-pick operations should be implementing to protect themselves and their customers.
Gary McDowell, MDARD Director, says, “Michigan is home to a wide array of delicious products and these farms play a critical role in our food supply chain. As we head into the 2020 growing season and early harvest for some commodities, U-pick operators will need to follow specific guidance such as social distancing in the retail and field areas, using masks, and taking the necessary steps to protect public health.”
Here are a couple of key items to note from McDowell’s team, with the full list available online:
- Operators must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and make it readily available to employees and customers; train employees; and supervise implementation as outlined in Executive Order 2020-91.
- U-pick operations must screen staff daily for symptoms and those with symptoms should not be permitted to work until they subside.
- They will need to provide and require the use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face coverings as appropriate for the activity being performed.
- Limit in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible, and bar any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
- Customers must take steps to maintain social distancing in sale and retail areas and in fields. Spacing out guests in U-pick areas is critical to the safety of all guests. A minimum of six feet between guests must always be maintained. This also means avoiding crowds waiting to enter sales or field areas and providing for six feet between each guest standing in any lines.
- Family units should stay together and six feet apart from others. Customers should only be accompanied with family members and should limit the numbers in their groups.
All provisions of Executive Orders 2020-91 and 2020-92 and more information and best practices from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention can be found at this link: