When entering the United States of America and probably other countries, one of the questions asked is: “Have you been on a farm recently?”.

When hiking in England or neighbouring countries, the footpath or public right of way frequently crosses a field that is shared with sheep or cows.

I have recently hiked in England and in neighbouring countries. During those hikes, I have crossed fields with sheep or cows¹. Does that by itself mean I should answer “yes” to the question “Have you been on a farm recently”? I'm not sure if pastures or rangeland counts as a farm. Rangeland in some countries, such as in northern Scandinavia, is very extensive and lightly grazed, with the situation not very different from grazing by wild animals.

¹I have since cleaned my boots.

2 Answers 2


Being on a farm is obviously not a crime. The customs controls simply want to make sure that you're not carrying any livestock parasites on your clothing or inside your luggage. In case of doubt mark that section with a "Yes" and have a short conversation with the customs officer about what you did in England. You are pretty much guaranteed to have no troubles or significant delays because of this.

  • 14
    I have said Yes to this question entering the US, and also to the similar "have you been in a wilderness or natural environment such as hiking" which is popular throughout the pacific. The only action that a Yes triggers is more questions. These can take less than a minute so go ahead and say Yes and let the officer get things clarified. For example in New Zealand the officer wanted to look at my shoes to confirm they were clean, they were, that was that. Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 18:52
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    Similarly you can answer "no" in the form BUT bring it up when you are talking to the CBP officer, i.e. "I was hiking in the country where livestock pastures, does it mean I was in the farm?". You'll likely get different responses from different officers, but as Kate said you'll likely only answer a couple more questions.
    – George Y.
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 23:11
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    They will want to see the footgear you wore to make sure it's been cleaned. You said you've cleaned them, no problem. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 1:44

The question is split nowadays. It is now totally unambiguous.

They used to ask something along the lines of "have you been on a farm", but last time I travelled (May 2018), there were two questions:

  • I am bringing (...) (d) soil or have been on a farm/ranch/pasture
  • I have (We have) been in close proximity of livestock (such as touching or handling)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Customs Declaration Form
Source: CBP (U.S. Federal Government, public domain)

I answered the first question with yes, the second question with no.

Then nothing happened any differently from other times I crossed the border.

  • This was done during Mad Cow, and some other infectious event happened. So now there's a very good, clear, unambiguous definition of what they want to see: Getting rid of unwanted hitchhikers that put the locals at risk. Good Post!
    – J.Hirsch
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 17:22

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