Farmworker Housing Concessions Pt 2

Farmworker Housing Concessions Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. A sigh of relief for many in Washington’s ag community after a judge tosses out several provisions in the workforce housing rules at the request of ag groups.

Washington Farm Bureau CEO John Stuhlmiller says it’s good news, but surprising considering agriculture is such a hazardous place to work …

STUHLMILLER … “So, to say that ag is the most dangerous industry and has to be treated differently than other sectors is just kind of strange when our numbers aren’t there proving that. So, we’re not letting science confuse the issue.”

But, Stuhlmiller says the process has been made far too complicated …

STUHLMILLER … “If the department had a great rule making, uh, a robust rule making process going, we would be communicating, labor would be communicating, everybody would be communicating, and they’d be working on permanent rules, but the underlying rules are already there. There’s already ag safety rules, and we’ve done a great job in agriculture through the years, including not spreading disease through hand washing, etc., etc. So, all those rules are there. These are the emergency rules we’re talking about.”

And, Stuhlmiller says as long as the bunk restrictions are still among the rules, there’s nothing to keep L&I from enforcing them …

STUHLMILLER … “When it’s on the books, they can. And so, what we want is for them to take it off. In fact, that’s what we’re asking is remove all the emergency rules because COVID vaccinations are there in play and when your workforce is vaccinated you don’t restrict the temporary worker housing situation.”

Tune in tomorrow for more on the workforce housing rules that are due to expire on May 8th and what changes could be coming.

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