Ag Workforce Coalition asks Pence to use CCC for COVID-19 resources
More than 160 farm, food and agriculture organizations organized as the Agriculture Workforce Coalition on Thursday sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence calling for the federal government to do more to help farmers, ranchers and growers across the country protect their employees from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Pence is head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The letter, which was distributed by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, asks for help for farmers to “offset the costs of COVID-19 mitigation expenses, while maintaining existing farm programs, by increasing Commodity Credit Corporation funds. These expenses include housing, transportation, retrofitting workplaces, testing, and training and compliance activities, among others.”
The letter also asks for more testing with prompt results, prioritization of PPE and vaccines for “the food and fiber supply chain.”
And the letter asks the task force to allow “the use of alternate housing structures, such as FEMA trailers or RVs to facilitate greater social distancing. While we appreciate the flexibility to use hotels/motels to facilitate social distancing and quarantine, these lodging options are not always available in rural areas.”
“Farmers continue to do our best to provide a safe workspace for all employees, promoting safety on and off the farm,” the letter states. “Across the agriculture sector, employers have instituted best practices including social distancing, enhanced hygiene and sanitation procedures, employee training, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“With the broad strain on PPE availability, testing, and other resources, however, we ask for your help as we continue to promote the health and safety of our farm employees and rural communities.”
The letter also asks for more testing with prompt results, prioritization of PPE and vaccines for “the food and fiber supply chain.” ❖
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