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Amidst the new focus on protests, looting and rioting, the Coronavirus continues to present threats, challenges and frustrations across all walks of life including agriculture.

On Thursday 5/28/20,  Gov. Jay Inslee  "issued a  proclamation meant to address COVID-19 concerns in Washington’s agriculture industry, specifically when it comes to the region’s farmworkers. Among the new announced standards: employers must provide four times as many hand washing stations on work sites, supply masks for employees who aren’t working alone at no cost to workers, and improve transportation safety by sanitizing vehicles properly and promoting social distancing. Violations of the order can result in fines of up to $7,000, depending on the situation."

Inslee said,“”Every time we eat there was a hand that provided our sustenance...the new rules would help protect both workers and farmers".

That's good in theory but the specifics don't sit too well with the Yakima County Farm Bureau (YCFB), a grass roots organization with 3,100 members consisting of farmers and ranchers with operations both large and small in Yakima and Klickitat Counties.

In a letter to the Governor, YCFB President  Mark Herke, writes "I am writing to you about a most distressing miscarriage of rule-making that your administration has foisted upon our honest, hard-working and caring Farmers and Ranchers. What is even worse, it comes at an unprecedented time when our agricultural sector is already under great stress due to Covid-19. Crop and Commodity prices are in peril and we do not know what tomorrow will bring as to when things get back to normal.....But we now know one thing with certainty from your actions in this matter: Your administration does not give one iota whether we succeed or fail!"

 

Newstalk KIT has reached out to Mr. Herke and we hope to have him on our radio show in the near future to find out more if or how local farmers and ranchers will be able the new requirements on short notice.

In the meantime, State Farm Bureau field men will be in Yakima on Thursday 6-4-20 with free hand sanitizer and masks for Ag producers.  A Farm Bureau spokesperson says they will be delivering 4-thousand gallons of hand sanitizer and a quantity of masks for Ag producers to the G.S.Long company location at 2517 Old Town Rd, in Union Gap.

The hours for the free, first come-first serve supplies are from 1 to 4 pm  but you are required to pre-register with Ben Tindall of the the Farm Bureau.  Tindall's phone number is (360) 357-9975. or email at B.Tindall@wsfb.com.

A G.S.Long company spokesman says they are happy to serve as the pickup location in both Union Gap and Wenatchee, but they want to be clear that the registration and supplies are in the hands of the State Farm Bureau so get registered and get there early.