NYS Laws & Regulations Related to Food, Farm, & Beverage Industries
New York State’s laws and regulations for business operations and employment situations are changing rapidly in an effort to flatten the curve. This section contains vital information on changing regulatory requirements. Please note that while many of New York State Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders do exempt food production, processing, farming, and food related business support services, all business operations must still maintain appropriate hygiene standards and implement social distancing to protect workplace health and safety.
Important Notification for NYS facilities
If a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 works in your facility or was known to be present in your facility, promptly notify your local health department and the Department of Agriculture and Markets at RRT@agriculture.ny.gov and perform cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces throughout the area immediately.
Phase 1B of Vaccination in NYS started Monday Jan. 11, 2021
Currently, the vaccination is still not available to food and agriculture workers; it is available to teachers and education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers, people over 65, and grocery store workers that are interacting with customers. Food and agriculture workers should continue to check this website or Governor Cuomo’s website for further announcements regarding the inclusion of new groups in NYS Phase 1B as increased supply becomes available. The number of people currently eligible for vaccine is still above the current supply; problems with scheduling the vaccination at the distribution sites might occur.
- Visit this page from the NYS Department of Health to find their "Am I Eligible" app to help you determine your eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, connect you with administration centers, and schedule an appointment. Note: The app only provides information for currently active phases of vaccination; information for additional phases will be available once those phases are initiated. Posted on January 11, 2021.
- Visit this page from the NYS Department of Health to find guidance on releasing individuals from quarantine as a result of an exposure to COVID-19. Posted on January 5, 2021.
- Visit this page to find the updated section on face coverings in New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations. Posted on December 16, 2020.
- Visit this page from the NYS Department of Health to find a holiday advisory for retailers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Posted on December 16, 2020.
- Food retailers and those authorized on their behalf have to have this signage posted outside all entrances as well as develop a process, using a door monitor or something similar, to deny entrance into the store if a customer is not wearing a face-covering. Posted on September 29, 2020.
- Visit this page from the NYS Agriculture and Markets to find Updated Interim Guidance for Retail Grocery Stores During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Posted on September 29, 2020.
- Visit this page from Cornell Cooperative Extension-Harvest New York to find a video recording in Spanish of Frequently Asked Questions the Agricultural Seasonal Worker COVID-19 Testing Initiative (NYS Department of Health, NYS Department of Labor, NYS Agriculture and Markets). Posted on August 31, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Health to find a regulatory amendment on the enforcement of social distancing measures. Posted on July 13, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Health to find Interim Guidance for Quarantine Restrictions on Travelers Arriving in New York State Following Out of State Travel. Posted on June 30, 2020.
- New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets issued Interim Guidance to Farmers’ Markets for how to remain open for food sales while practicing safe social distancing. Updated on May 29, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State Government to find information on the Reopening Phase for New York State Industry. Posted on May 14, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets to find information on how to set-up a charitable food drive-through event in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Posted on April 30, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets to find information on temporary packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs that will allow the industry to meet the increased demand for shell eggs during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Posted on April 30, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Health to find a revised guidance document on testing which includes the steps an essential worker can take to get tested. Posted on April 27, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State Government to find guidance on Executive Order 202.16 Requiring Face Coverings for Public and Private Employees Interacting with the Public During the COVID-19 Outbreak. Visit this page to read the Governor’s Executive Order 202.16. All employees in direct contact with the public must wear cloth masks or face coverings as of April 15, 2020 at 8:00 pm. Posted on April 20, 2020.
- Department of Agriculture and Markets is offering a 45 day extension of 20-C Food Processing Licenses that expire between April 16 and May 31, 2020. At the end of the 45 day period, a completed 20-C food processing license and the full applicable fee must be received by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Posted on April 17, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State Government to find guidance on Executive Order 202.17 requiring face coverings when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance. Posted on April 16, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets to find a press release on actions the department is taking to assist the agricultural industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted on April 14, 2020.
- New York State Updated Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Food Manufacturing Facilities or Food Retail Stores for COVID-19. Posted on April 13, 2020.
- New York State Provisional Guidance: Using Surplus Milk as Fertilizer Due to the COVID-19 Emergency. Posted on April 13, 2020.
- As of 4/7/2020, Governor Cuomo has issued another Executive Order extending social distancing, cancellation of events, and workplace restrictions until May 7, 2020. Additionally, this Executive Order adds a penalty of a $1,000 fine to any individual violating social distancing requirements outside of their own home, enforceable by local law enforcement. Posted on April 8, 2020.
- Quarantine of the Tri-State Region (NY, NJ, CT) does not apply to critical transportation and delivery workers moving goods, products and services related to the food industry into or out of New York State. Posted on March 30, 2020.
- Governor Cuomo’s series of Executive Orders now require all non-essential employers to implement a 100% reduction in density in workplace settings, or essentially moving to a policy of everyone working from home starting March 22, 2020. New York State has been put on “PAUSE” starting March 22, 2020 at 8:00 PM. The 10 Point Pause Policy can be found here. Current Executive Orders require businesses to implement a 75% de-densification measure starting March 20, 2020 until March 22, 2020, when the 100% rule comes into place. The Governor has exempted essential industries from these requirements. Most food, beverage and farm related businesses, agri-businesses in the supply chain like fertilizer and feed mill operations, veterinary practices, and food retail and wholesale businesses such as grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, produce auctions, etc. are EXEMPT from these workplace restrictions.
- New York State official guidance for determining if you are an essential business effective March 22, 2020 is here.
- Additionally, travel restrictions do NOT apply to exempt businesses. New York State roads are open. Employees concerned about travel may find anxiety alleviated by employers’ providing a document attesting that the employee is working in an essential business. These letters are NOT required but may help provide greater certainty in uncertain times. Template letters in English and Spanish can be found here and can be customized to your business. Updated on March 21, 2020.
- As of 3/22/2020, guidelines from the New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets for animal care and veterinary employees on what activities constitute essential business operations can be found here. Posted on March 23, 2020.
- If you are not in one of the designated categories on the ESDC website, you may request a waiver here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
- ESDC has set up a web portal and FAQ page for individuals and businesses with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions. This website also contains COVID-19 resources. Posted on March 20, 2020.
- The New York State, Department of Agriculture and Markets has additional guidance for agricultural and food related businesses, including information on the mass gatherings restrictions policy and how that applies to agriculture and food businesses. Posted on March 20, 2020.
- On March 19, 2020, New York State adopted new regulations requiring paid sick leave for employees impacted by COVID-19:
- Visit this page for employee guidance and instructions on how to apply for sick leave or unemployment insurance.
- Visit this page for employer guidance on how to comply with the new requirements which are based on the number of employees.
- Farm and food related businesses are NOT exempt from these required benefits.
- Craft and Farm Beverage licensees can find information on operational restrictions, as well as new opportunities to directly ship to the consumer at the NYS Liquor Authority’s webpage here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
- Operate a farmers’ market or farm stand? Find updated COVID-19 food safety and sanitary compliance guidance from New York State here. Posted on March 20, 2020.
- Visit this page from the New York State, Liquor Authority to find information on restrictions on ‘to-go’ and delivery sales in response to COVID-19 outbreak. Posted on March 17, 2020.
Many businesses and organizations have expressed a desire to support New York State as it responds to the virus outbreak. Individuals or groups looking to volunteer or contribute to the State’s effort should contact the Governor’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need information? The following Cornell CALS and CCE pages are updated regularly:
- General Questions & Links
- Food Production, Processing & Safety Questions
- Employment & Agricultural Workforce Questions
- Cornell Small Farms Resiliency Resources
- Financial & Mental Health Resources for Farmers
If you have specific questions around ingredients, cleaning/sanitation chemicals and procedures, personnel practices, or other food safety, supply, and distribution changes due to the impact of COVID-19, reach out to our experts:
- Dairy: Rob Ralyea (email@example.com) and Kimberly Bukowski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Fresh Produce: Dr. Elizabeth Bihn (email@example.com) and Gretchen Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Processed Fruits and Vegetables: Dr. Martin Wiedmann (email@example.com) and Dr. Randy Worobo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Fermented Beverages: Dr. Anna Katharine Mansfield (email@example.com) and Chris Gerling (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- All Other Foods: Dr. Olga Padilla-Zakour (email@example.com) and Dr. Bruno Xavier (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- For Resources in Spanish: Karen Ospina (email@example.com)
Our team can also provide process authority services in case you need to change processes and/or formulations due to COVID-19 related challenges. For more information visit the Cornell Food Venture Center and for dairy-related process authority services contact Rob Ralyea (firstname.lastname@example.org).