Effort to Make Ag Workers a Top Vaccine Priority

Ernie NeffCOVID-19

vaccine
© Florida Department of Citrus

The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) on Dec. 2 urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to include agricultural workers among the state’s top priorities for the COVID-19 vaccine allocation. The request was similar to one various national-level food industry organizations made to President Donald Trump in November.

“We understand the state has begun preparations for the rollout of the initial vaccine and strongly support priority allocation to healthcare workers and long-term care facilities,” FFVA Chairman Aaron Troyer wrote to DeSantis. “Respectfully, prioritizing vaccinations for Florida’s agricultural workforce (after the aforementioned groups) is vital for a safe and abundant food supply.”

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the essential nature of agricultural workers, who are on the front lines putting healthy, nutritious food on consumers’ tables,” Troyer continued. “The health and well-being of the agriculture workforce is the top priority for Florida growers.” He noted that growers have taken “extraordinary measures” against COVID-19. “However, our growing season has only just begun, generating concern of anticipated impacts on our workforce heading into the winter months if there is still no vaccine available.”

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“Now more than ever, Florida agriculture plays an important role in our communities, and its workforce plays an even greater one in helping to feed the state and country,” Troyer wrote. “Priority distribution of a vaccine to agricultural workers ensures a healthy workforce and that food will continue to flow from the farm to consumers.”

In the letter to Trump, 15 associations stated: “Prioritizing vaccinations for food, agriculture, retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods) workers will be a key intervention to help keep workers healthy and to ensure that agricultural and food supply chains remain operating.” The associations stated that their industries “will continue to fulfill the ‘special responsibility’ critical infrastructure industries carry, and we are proud that our industry’s workforce has selflessly persevered to feed America.”

Learn about COVID-19 impacts on Florida citrus here.

Sources: Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and United Fresh

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