Plan Now to Keep Workers Safe During Next Harvest Season

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Growers take steps to protect farmworkers’ health so they can continue to ensure an abundant, safe food supply is available to U.S. consumers. Image source: The Pajaronian

It is likely the coronavirus pandemic will be a threat for most of the country next year, even as vaccines have begun to be administered. Vegetable and specialty crop producers are encouraged to be prepared when planning for next season’s harvest, specifically for how to keep their H-2A workers healthy.

Allison Crittenden, Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the time is now to make those preparations.

“I think now that employers and farmers realize what steps they need to be taking to provide a safe workplace that hopefully mitigates the spread of the COVID. It’s the last thing anybody wants is an outbreak on their operation. I think if I were a grower going into my next season I would certainly be trying to stock up on masks and sanitizer; taking this time in the offseason to come up with a plan,” Crittenden said.

Knowing What to Expect

Farmers at least now know what to expect. It is a much different feeling than last spring when producers had to adjust on the go to keep their workforce healthy.

“I think when we all first heard about the pandemic, we thought this might be a short-term thing, but I think what we’ve learned is that it’s very long-term and likely will have long-term impacts on how businesses operate moving forward,” Crittenden said.

“I think I would take this time to learn from last season and the quick adaptations that growers had to put in place and use this time to plan accordingly, knowing that we’re still not out of the woods.”