Coronavirus image CDC - Copy.tif (copy)

Illustration of a coronavirus created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A growing number of farm events across the Northeast have been postponed or canceled, and many land-grant and agricultural colleges are shifting to online classes as a precaution against coronavirus.

Penn State Extension told staff on Wednesday that all events would be canceled through April 6.

The Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association had planned a three-day annual meeting later this month to celebrate the group’s centennial.

But the co-op announced Monday it would cut the event in Ellicott City, Maryland, to a one-day business meeting, March 26. Events celebrating the 100-year milestone may be held later.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey also canceled its annual meeting, planned for March 17 in Hillsborough.

“This decision prioritizes the health and safety of our participants and community,” the group wrote on its website.

Ohio canceled a special meeting of its Agricultural Commodity Advisory Commission that was planned for March 11.

The meeting would have dealt with claims against Washington Court House-based Vista Grain. The state Ag Department suspended the business’ operations in January, saying the company was unable to cover its outstanding obligations to farmers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation canceled its Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference, which was planned for this weekend in Kentucky.

Other events that have been canceled or postponed include the PA Hemporium in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, planned for March 13; a North Jersey RC&D field day; and the Maryland Farmers Market Conference, scheduled for March 18.

Cases of the novel coronavirus have been found in 38 states, including most states on the East Coast. The disease, known as Covid-19, had killed 29 people and sickened over 900 nationwide by Thursday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sporting events, academic and business conferences, and festivals have been canceled or modified worldwide to minimize the spread of the disease, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday.

Most cases of the coronavirus are mild, though the illness can be severe and sometimes fatal. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most people, the immediate risk of exposure is thought to be low, according to the CDC.

Central Market, a popular indoor farmers market in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is encouraging standholders to clean the outsides of their stands often, and is having custodians wipe down door handles and common areas frequently.

Mary Goss, the manager of market operations, told LNP | LancasterOnline the market’s board is developing a response plan should the disease appear locally, but closing the market is not on the table right now.

Agricultural and land-grant universities are curtailing travel and large gatherings, making plans to move classes online, and encouraging good hygiene.

Schools that are still holding in-person classes include Delaware Valley University, SUNY Cobleskill, the University of Maine and Virginia Tech.

After spring break, Cornell University will conduct classes online through the rest of the semester.

Ohio State has suspended in-person lectures through at least March 30, and the university has been preparing guidance for labs and other hands-on learning experiences.

At Rutgers, all classes are canceled through the end of spring break on March 22, and courses will be held remotely from then till at least April 3.

The university is recommending students leave campus for the time being.

SUNY Morrisville, where in-person classes are proceeding, says it has a large quantity of hand soap in stock and expects an order of hand sanitizer to arrive by the end of the month.

Lancaster Farming will regularly update its list of class-schedule adjustments that Northeastern ag schools are making at bit.ly/LFcoronavirus1

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