More than 150 farm groups ask federal government for help protecting for farm workers


Dozens of commodity organizations as well as the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union have delivered a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting federal help in supplying farm workers with personal protective equipment.

“Farmers are proud to serve on the frontlines with our employees protecting our nation’s food and fiber supply, but we have not been immune to the crippling effects of the pandemic. Loss of markets, supply chain logistics, price volatility, and workplace safety are just some of the challenges our industry has faced this year,” the letter to Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force reads. “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 outlines five things farm groups would like to see done. The requests include allowing the use of alternate housing structures, ensuring COVID-19 testing resources are easily accessible, increasing CCC funds to help farmers offset mitigation costs, giving the food supply chain priority on PPE and a future vaccine and leveraging networks to get workers more information.

“Our national food security depends on a safe working environment for frontline agricultural employees,” the letter concludes. “The work of planting, cultivating, harvesting, packaging, and processing crops, dairy and meat cannot be conducted from the comfort of a home office, as with many jobs. Despite the implementation of best practices in fields and processing facilities, the agricultural workforce remains at heightened risk of infection.”

Overall, 170 farm groups from around the country signed the letter.

You can read the full letter here.