Protecting farm workers from the novel coronavirus is a priority for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Micheal Clements tells us the Farm Bureau is asking Congress to help farmers keep their employees safe.
Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking Congress to offset farm worker protection costs in the next coronavirus relief package. AFBF Congressional Relations Director Allison Crittenden says lawmakers have just a few weeks to provide more coronavirus relief.
Crittenden: The lawmakers are back, the clock is ticking before August recess, so we have just a few weeks. Some of the big-ticket items are obviously appropriation, but even more of a focus right now is the next coronavirus relief package.
Clements: Many farmers have already taken steps to protect farm workers, but Crittenden says those efforts are costly.
Crittenden: Some of the estimates have shown you have extra housing, or you have to retrofit your housing, perhaps spend more on transportation to allow for social distancing while traveling to and from the farm. Also, providing PPE and additional sanitizer and disinfectant. All of that has brought added costs to a time where we are seeing shrinking profit margins. So, what we’re asking for from Farm Bureau is to have a way to offset some of those costs that farmers are taking on in order to keep their workers safe.
Clements: Crittenden says it is important to protect farm workers to keep the food supply chain healthy.
Crittenden: If we want to keep the supply chain rolling and not have any disruptions then we have to make sure that the men and women that are working on our farms are healthy and want to come to work each day and help get that food from the farm on to our table.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.