With the growing Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic engulfing the U.S., states are taking action to increase social distancing and slow the spread of the disease. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued executive orders that force most employers to reduce their workforces by 75% on March 21st and by 100% at 8:00 PM on March 22nd, except for businesses deemed “essential.” Farms are the beginning of the food supply chain and they are clearly essential to us all, and the government recognizes this. The state issued guidance clearly identifying agribusiness and farms as essential and not subject to workforce reductions. Agribusinesses that supply farms, food processors, and manufacturers, grocers, and others in the food supply chair are also essential. Learn more about which employers are essential and apply for designation as essential at this site from Empire State Development.
Of course, farms can’t operate without their employees. If New York tightens travel restrictions in the state as California did today with a “stay at home” order, then farm employees may need some help getting to work. Local authorities may stop anyone moving about if they are not authorized to do so. Scott Dilley from the Washington State Dairy Federation shared templates of letters that they have used to help farm employees document who they work for. Consider customizing and preparing these letters for your farm employees so that they can still come to work and support us all through your essential farm businesses. Download the letter templates in Microsoft Word at the links below.
By Richard Stup, Cornell University. The post Farms Are “Essential” in New York, and So Are Farm Employees appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal