Farmers Can Prevent COVID-19 Spread Through Use of Shared Equipment and Tools

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recognized food and agriculture as a critical infrastructure industry for national security during the COVID-19 pandemic. As essential agricultural workers, farmers should employ precautions when working with shared agricultural machinery and equipment. It is not uncommon for farmers to share their farm equipment with friends, farmworkers, and family members. Some farm cooperatives also have shared farm equipment including tractors, combine harvesters, planters, and hand tools.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronavirus is spread by contact and droplets. For example, the virus can be spread when a person sneezes or coughs and leaves droplets on a surface or shared object. To prevent the spread the virus, farmers and farmworker must practice vigorous personal hygiene. The following practices can help to prevent or reduce the spread of the virus:

  • Always wash hands properly with soap and clean water before putting on disposable gloves.
  • Wear disposable garments over coveralls when operating a shared tractor.
  • Wash down your tractor cabin with soap and clean water; then sanitize/disinfect. Note: You cannot disinfect over a muddy surface.
  • Disinfect the tractor cabin before each new use.
  • All tractor users must sanitize/disinfect their boots before entering the tractor.
  • Open tractors must be cleaned and sanitized.
  • Wipe and disinfect hand tools after each use.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. Do not use regular work gloves.
  • Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting products. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website to find a list of EPA-approved disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2.
  • Train all farmworkers on proper cleaning and sanitizing.

For more information, please contact Nelson Brownlee, Extension Area Farm Management Agent, at 910-671-3276, by e-mail at Nelson_Brownlee@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.