Costs of new COVID-19 rules has Washington growers concerned

Washington state is working to update safety rules as coronavirus cases spread on fruit and vegetable farms.

As we have previously reported, the state wants to change housing standards and increase sanitation requirements. Industry leaders say that farmers want to comply and keep their workforce safe, but they are concerned with the cost of the new rules.

“There was a lot of financial burdens around this pandemic for not just agriculture but all the businesses, but growers are certainly not exempt from that, just because you’re essential doesn’t mean that you’re not incurring huge compliance costs and seeing a decrease in your returns,” said John DeVaney, the President of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

Labor heavy crops like apples, asparagus, and other fruits and vegetables contribute more than 50 percent to the state’s ag economy.