Three generations work in the the spring leek fields in Auburn, Washington. Photo curtosy of Mosby Farms.
COVID-19 has caused a roar of confusion, uncertainty and change. It has impacted every person in our state whether that be from recent unemployment, working from home, home schooling children or enforcing social distancing into our daily lives. Farmers and ranchers are now faced with all of those same challenges and tasked with protecting their extended families, farmworkers.
Farmers across the country consider farmworkers not only essential in their operation, but extensions of their own family. Nearly 96% of farms in Washington are family owned: can you imagine what these extended families are going through to ensure safety and protection.
First and foremost, safety remains a top priority for farmers and ranchers. Putting anyone at risk, whether family by blood or choice, would potentially jeopardize their entire operation. Farmers are mindful that even one case of COVID-19 is too many on the farm. Farmers across the state are leading the way in safety practices, implementing extra measures to ensure there is food on the table for our communities, our state and our nation.
“Farmers were independently exercising safety measures before there was ever a mandate in place. No farmer is going to gamble with losing their entire season due to an outbreak on their farm.” Mike LaPlant, Washington Farm Bureau President.
It is no secret that working on a farm is challenging work. The labor force that works to put food on the table is truly the backbone of agriculture. Spring through fall, planting and harvesting crops are time sensitive tasks. Time is money in agriculture, and, yet, farmers and ranchers have pressed pause across the country, adopting increased safety measures, offering specialized training and more. Without a strong labor force, the industry that provides food, feed and fiber is nonexistent. Taking every precaution to ensure that labor force is strong and healthy is top priority not only in Washington state but across the country.
Agriculture is not a one-size-fits-all industry – safety practices change from commodity to commodity. The practices put into place to pick cherries are not the same safety measures that play into harvesting wheat or sorting cattle. As the voice of agriculture in Washington state, Washington Farm Bureau is working with our WFB members to ensure safety measures are met. We have communicated with thousands across the state about their current operations and are working to ensure that safety measures for every commodity are being utilized.
Here is the bottom line – agriculture is not deaf to the reality of COVID-19. Rather, we are hyper sensitive, on the front line and responding daily. From dawn to dusk, farmers, ranchers and their valued employees work hard to put food on your table. They care about the safety of their family, co-workers and consumers. As new information from trusted resources like the CDC are released each day, they adapt, they persevere, and most importantly, continue to feed the world.
Published By: WSFB, Bailey Peters
Published On: 4/21/2020