Farm Labor Lawsuit Pt 3

Farm Labor Lawsuit Pt 3

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. The lawsuit brought against the state for onerous regulations intended to protect ag workers from the COVID-19 virus, aren’t necessary.

Washington Farm Bureau CEO John Stuhlmiller says that’s because farmers are already going above and beyond to keep workers safe …

STUHLMILLER … “In fact, when you look at the numbers, in spite of the rhetoric coming our of the Governor’s office or others, ag has been one of the least impacted by COVID of the business sector.”

Stuhlmiller says it’s no secret …

STUHLMILLER … “The numbers within the Ag Community, and we’ve been open, remember we’re essential, we’ve been open the whole time. We’ve never shut down farms. And, we’re thankful for that because we’ve got to operate that way. We can’t just stop raising the apples now, to freeze the trees in time and wait until next year, but we have very low numbers of COVID.”

The regulations, however, Stuhlmiller says haven’t loosened up a bit since the pandemic began …

STUHLMILLER … “But, the Governor’s office, when they rejected our appeal to this rule making, said, oh no, you’ve got bad numbers and you’re just very unsafe, which is completely untrue.”

Stuhlmiller says nobody’s been perfect through the pandemic …

STUHLMILLER … “The fact of the matter is, ag has been taking it very seriously and has had good results. I mean, we’ve had a couple of fatalities, which is terrible, and it doesn’t help my farm if I lose a worker, right? Our desire is to have workers in the field, not sick.”

The state expects roughly 25,000 guest workers this year to prepare and harvest Washington crops.

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