COVID-19 Response and Resources
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation following Governor Bill Lee’s State of Emergency declaration. We take the health of citizens and our staff very seriously and are following best practices to slow the spread of the virus.
We remain committed to protecting food safety, product quality, and fair commerce. Our department’s services continue unless otherwise stated. Meetings with the option for electronic participation (conference call, video conferencing, etc.) are preferred. Please contact the meeting organizer to confirm details.
Remember to follow CDC guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19: avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, maintain at least six feet of space between you and others, wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time, avoid touching your face, and stay home if you feel sick.
The latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee is available online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.
Is my agribusiness considered essential?
Under Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 22, agriculture is deemed an essential service.
Executive Order 22 adopts, in part, guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to identify essential critical infrastructure, such as agriculture and agribusiness. Please refer to the Executive Order to determine if your businesses is deemed essential.
Even though a business may be considered essential, it doesn’t exempt them from following recommended health guidelines for their employees or customers, and the Governor’s Executive Order doesn’t necessary supplant local orders.
When conducting business related to agriculture, do I or my employees need to carry credentials to travel?
Under Executive Order 22, it is not necessary for agribusiness workers to have credentials or licensing to verify involvement in the agricultural supply chain. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is unable to issue any special documentation. We recommend producers and businesses keep a copy of Executive Order 22 for reference and be prepared to explain how their operation or business fits into this guidance.
Can I get COVID-19 from food or food packaging?
Food has not been identified as a likely source of COVID-19. However, it is always important to follow good practices to ensure proper food handling and safety, including washing your hands before food preparation and eating. Learn more.
Is it safe to eat fresh produce?
COVID-19 is not known to be caused from eating food, so safety of fresh produce should not be a concern relative to this new virus. Washing produce with clean water before consumption is always a good practice. It is not recommended to wash produce with dish soap or any detergent, or to treat produce with chemical disinfectants at home. Learn more.
Should I be concerned about going to the grocery store?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Shoppers should follow good practices for health, including washing or sanitizing hands upon entering a store and as soon as possible after leaving. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others while shopping, avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily, and avoid touching your face. Do not go to a store if you feel ill or if you have been exposed to someone who is sick with COVID-19. Learn more.
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Is it safe to visit a farmers market, on-farm retail store, or a pick-your-own farm during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Despite the crisis, Tennessee’s farmers continue to produce safe, fresh, local foods. Farmers markets and farms that sell directly to the public are ideal sources for fresh vegetables, meats, and food products.
Use the Pick Tennessee Products website or mobile app to find a farmers market or farm near you. Make sure to contact the business before visiting, as there may be new procedures in place. Many have enhanced safety measures to protect the health of their customers and staff, including advance ordering and pick up options.
You should not visit a market or farm if you feel ill or if you have been exposed to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
Should I have my pet tested for COVID-19?
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture does not have plans to conduct widespread testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Currently, pets or livestock are not thought to be involved in COVID-19 transmission to other animals or to people.
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) do not recommend routine testing of companion animals for COVID-19. Should testing of a companion animal be requested, the Tennessee State Veterinarian and the State Epidemiologist will work together to make a joint decision. Learn more.
COVID-19: Ag Industry Partners Weekly Meeting
TDA Guidance for Farms and Forestry Businesses
TN Pledge Guidance for Large Community Events (includes fairs)
TDA Guidance for Livestock Shows and Events
CDC Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processors
TDA Guidance for Pick-Your-Own Produce Farms
TDA Guidance for Farms Selling Directly to the Public
TDA Guidance for Farmers Markets
TDA Guidance for Livestock Markets
TDA Guidance for On-Farm Production Sales
Defining Essential Equine Care
FAQs on Essential Equine Care
CDC and U.S. Department of Labor Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employers
Ag Industry Partners
Extension Service - COVID-19 Resources
Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation - COVID-19 Information
American Farm Bureau - What's in the CARES Act for Agriculture?
TN Association of Farmers Markets - Responding to COVID-19
Farmers Market Coalition - COVID-19 Updates
TN Grocers & Convenience Store Assn. - COVID-19 Resources
North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association - Managing Agritourism Through Coronavirus
USDA has a wealth of information on their website, including FAQs on access to food, animal and plant health, food safety, pet safety, and the Paycheck Protection Program. They also offer a federal resource guide which is a one-stop-shop for those seeking federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.
USDA Rural Development is also frequently updating their website with resources and information to help rural residents, businesses, and communities affected by COVID-19.
American Trucking Associations - The COVID-19 Update Hub addresses congressional and state actions, driver and employee wellness, small business relief, and supply chain questions.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration -
Expanded Emergency Declaration
Statement on Restrictions on Movement Relating to COVID-19
FAQs on the FMCSA Emergency Declaration | FAQs Part 2
Commercial Learner's Permit Waiver
TN Department of Ag - Temporary Alternative Fuel Standards
Human and Animal Health
TN Department of Health - COVID-19 Information and Updates
Centers for Disease Control - Learn More About COVID-19
For Pet and Livestock Owners - Animals and COVID-19
TN Department of Agriculture - Guidelines for Testing Companion Animals for COVID-19
Extension Service - COVID-19 and Livestock Questions & Answers
Find Fresh, Local Food Near You
While the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, Tennessee farms and farmers markets remain ideal sources for fresh and local produce, dairy products, and meats. Pick Tennessee Products will connect you with local farms, markets, and businesses growing, producing, and selling foods right here in Tennessee.