Inslee Denies Ag Worker Changes Pt 1

Inslee Denies Ag Worker Changes Pt 1

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Governor Jay Inslee has denied the request from two of the state’s most influential ag groups to repeal emergency rules for ag worker housing in Washington state.

Washington Farm Bureau CEO John Stuhlmiller says Monday’s announcement was certainly disappointing but also left some unanswered question …

STUHLMILLER … “Without saying it, he’s keeping everything active so no emergency rules are being expired or rescinded. So, it’s business as usual … or is it?”

As the COVID rules appear to relax for everything else,

Stuhlmiller says why shouldn’t agriculture get the same consideration? …

STUHLMILLER … “That’s been clear. They are going after producers for COVID violations. And so, they’re going to continue to fine, but they’re not going to rescind the rules even though ag is well above the curve on the vaccinations. So, we’re left with a mixed bag that we don’t understand exactly. It’s really hard to say, what should I do as a grower in handling my workers.”

With as well as ag has handled the pandemic, Stuhlmiller says it’s hard to say why there’s no reward …

STUHLMILLER … “Clearly, there’s some politics at play here. You know, we show the stats, we ask, and what we get is not a very well-considered, frankly. If you look at the letter, it says basically, we’ve said it before and we’re saying it again, just wait until we say it’s different. Until then, keep in mind that you’re not safe and we have to protect workers.”

Tune in tomorrow for more on the governor’s denial and what happens next with harvest season nearly upon us.

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