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Getting help to growers during the pandemic

Workers harvest artichokes at Ocean Mist Farms, Castroville, CA.

News reports have suggested that the COVID-19 virus is raging through rural areas, such as Salinas, CA, and putting crops at risk of not being harvested. 

Abby Taylor-Silva, vice president, policy & communications for the Grower-Shipper Association BB #:162651 Salinas, CA, said the group hasn’t heard of any harvest problems, and it has been actively engaged with members to help them take care of their agricultural workers.

For example, she said the association has worked with county and local health officials to provide quarantined housing, and it’s been so successful, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state plans to build on the program and possibly make it statewide.

“Whether the affected employee lives and works in our region or if they are guest workers here on an H-2A visa, the goal is for any worker to have access to separated housing where they can quarantine or rest and recover while protecting their families and/or housemates from contracting this illness,” Taylor-Silva said August 12.

Since April 21, she said 248 workers have used the quarantine housing.

Additionally, the association has helped growers with:

-Mask distribution. The association purchased one million facemasks from a Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare vendor to give to ag workers.

-Expedited COVID-19 testing. Taylor-Silva said the association partnered with Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas to provide 48-hour-turnaround testing with convenient locations for workers.

-In-field prevention training. The association partnered with Mee Memorial Hospital, Natividad, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, and Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula to provide bilingual training from doctors and nurses. So far about 5,000 workers have gotten the training.

-Guidance. The association created a document for growers that has been updated during the pandemic.


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services