Washington producers face challenges brought on by new PPE rules

Washington has released new coronavirus guidelines for agriculture, but the state Farm Bureau says that the rules will be difficult to meet.

Gov. Jay Inslee and the Labor Department issued an ag safety plan for COVID-19. The new rules require an isolation plan for on-farm housing, face masks for workers, and disinfectant for equipment. Washington Farm Bureau says that one of the biggest challenges will be washing stations requirements, especially in the state’s tree fruit industry.

“Even in the L&I clarification documents, they never really get to some of these details that farmers need to be successful,” Bre Elsey, WAFB’s Director of Government Affairs, said.

Elsey added that the industry was included in the rule-making process, but all requests were ignored by the administration.

“When you have a major rule that’s going to be implemented, you want to give the public notice, that that is coming down the pike. To not give the public notice really means you are knowingly setting them up for failure,” she said.

The Farm Bureau says that many farmers will struggle to meet the new guidance, which is subject to fines if not properly followed. The administration says that it will update the guidance as needed.