Farmworkers see coronavirus spikes throughout the country


It is not just meatpacking plants that have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, but also farmworkers.

Like meatpacking employees, farm workers have also been declared essential employees however the enforcement of social distancing and other protective policies are enforced by the individual farms.

There have still been large outbreaks in several states.

In New New Jersey, 100 workers at two large produce operations tested positive. In North Carolina, a strawberry farm had to close temporarily after eight workers test positive. In Washington, almost 500 fruitpackers in one county have tested positive. In Tennessee, one farm had 200 workers test in positive and in Florida, the Governor recently attributed the state’s coronavirus spike to farmworkers, among other group.

These outbreaks have lead to some advocates pushing for more protection for the largely immigration workforce.

“It’s very concerning given that there have been several outbreaks at farm labor camps this early in the season in North Carolina,” Lori Johnson, managing attorney of the Farmworker Unit of Legal Aid of North Carolina, told Politico.

Farmworker Justice, an advocate organization, has also repeated calls for OSHA to issue more extensive mandatory protections and said federal language on the matter “seems to adopt language to make sure that essential workers are back to work as soon as possible.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation has outlined several ways to help prevent the spread of coronavirus on the farm including to ag worker safety resources, guidance for on-farm deliveries, protective measures that can be taken and coronavirus control methods.

Additionally, OSHA recently released more guidelines for farmworkers in conjunction with the CDC, stating “Agriculture work sites, shared worker housing, and shared worker transportation vehicles present unique challenges for preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19. Consistent application of specific preparation, prevention, and management measures can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.”