LYONS, N.Y. (WIVB) – A number of seasonal farm workers will soon come to Western New York for the fall harvest. The coronavirus has added an extra challenge to farming that never existed before.
“They’re always moving from one place to another,” Wilmer Jimenez pointed out about farm workers.
Jimenez is the Western New York associate coordinator for Rural Migrant Ministry. One of his top priorities over the past several months has been making sure those workers have all of the equipment necessary to stay safe in the era of COVID-19.
“Not all of the employers are providing the necessary equipment,” he said.
According to a survey conducted by the New York Farm Bureau in June, 75% of farmers said they had plenty of masks, hand sanitizer, and other PPE for their workers, according to Steve Ammerman, public affairs manager for the farm bureau. Ammerman said percentage would be even higher if the survey was conducted today.
“Most farms had enough in place,” Ammerman said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo brought up the issue of COVID-19 and farms earlier this week when addressing coronavirus clusters in Western New York.
“There’s seasonal labor forces that come in for farms,” Cuomo said. “But we do more testing in New York than any other state. So we can identify when you start to see a quote-unquote cluster.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.