Protections can safeguard employees and fall harvest
By New York Farm Bureau
New York Farm Bureau has advocated for interagency state coordination related to testing, medical treatment, and emergency housing for farmworkers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we support New York state’s latest response announced today by the governor as our farms approach the all-important fall harvest season.
More accessible testing and additional housing support for incoming guest workers will better protect farm employees who are already working on farms, as well as help to prevent the spread of the virus. An outbreak could dramatically impact a farm’s harvest. Not only would this be a health risk for the employees, but it could also mean less food production and a hit to the farm’s bottom-line if they do not have the labor or harvested product to sell.
Farmworkers are essential workers. According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, 8,104 guest workers had H-2A visas last year to work on farms in this state. Many are now arriving on farms to assist in the harvest of fruits and vegetables, local food that feeds our communities. NYFB has conducted major outreach to the farming community about effective guidance and health protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. A recent NYFB survey found 84% of farms have safety plans in place to protect their employees. In addition, NYFB has worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension to conduct outreach to county health departments to assist and identify quarantine housing that may be needed.
As we have seen, no one and no place are immune from the virus. Farms are continuing to take this health crisis seriously, and this latest announcement from Gov, Cuomo will further this mission on our farms. NYFB thanks the hard work of the New York state agencies that are rolling out the plan, and we look forward to an ongoing partnership to protect agriculture’s valuable workforce. New York’s farms are still farming to meet our food security needs and this must continue.
To read the NYFB letter sent to the governor requesting assistance in April, click here.