As the pandemic continues and harvest seasons for many agricultural products approach, the new rules for farm workers are raising questions. How will these guidelines affect the harvest seasons? Scott Dilley, a representative from the Washington Dairy Federation, joins Dillon Honcoop on the farm show to talk about how these new rules are affecting the agricultural industries.
Dilley finds it difficult to see any positive attributes of the new guidelines put out by Governor Inslee. The new guidelines just put out more rules for farmers to comply with and prohibits further work unless employers follow these exact rules
Dilley emphasizes that the goal of farmers is still to keep workers safe; this has never been out of the question. It’s just that the added rules seem to have more of a political focus rather than on safety.
Before the proclamation was annouced, L&I’s original approach with goals for essential businesses made sense. Dilley says that these goals gave latitude to the employers as long as they were keeping workers safe, as necessary for their farm. Inslee’s proclamation takes those guidelines and then adds more requirements including:
-Employees must wash hands 6x/day
-More hand-washing stations
-Employers must provide PPE
-Regular disinfecting of work site several times a day
Dilley and Honcoop agree that enforcing these guidelines are important; this is common sense. Things like washing hands and wearing masks are vital for safety. The problem, they argue, is that it does not fit the farming world.
Dilley argues that each situation is a site by site case. He see it more necessary for each site to make their own goals for safety rather than the “one size fits all approach” that the proclamation enforces. These new rules don’t give any leverage to farmers to control what happens on their farm, says Dilley. Instead of being a focus on safety, Dilley and Honcoop agree that this is a political issue.
“The politics of this cannot be dismissed. If this weren’t political, I think we would see more general guidelines for all essential workers and all essential industries, rather than a break down of specific industries being treated in specific ways” Dilley said.
Dilley says that the political pressure needs to be taken into consideration. He believes that some groups are getting more stringent rules because of the pressure that the governor is getting from activist groups. He wonders, is Governor Inslee just doing this to avoid more pressure from activists?
Hear the full story by listening to the interview below: