On Monday, the Oregon Farm Bureau filed a formal petition to Oregon-OSHA on behalf of farm housing providers. The petition said the Ag industry seeks common-sense solutions to farm labor housing protections during COVID-19. Samantha Bayer, OFB Policy Counsel, said this is not the first time the farming community tried to work with the state to keep employees safe during the pandemic.
She noted Farm Bureau sent documentation to state leaders when the pandemic started, but that effort was ignored. And when the state looked at extending coronavirus guidelines, again, the farm community did not have a seat at the table. Bayer noted OFB filed this week’s petition because their voices are being ignored by Governor Brown and others in Salem.
“None of the concerns addressed by the agricultural community in the hundreds of comments on the original petition that started the rules back in May were addressed. And then there was no outreach from the state when the rule was going to lapse and they were considering doing the executive order.”
Bayer noted what makes this even more frustrating, is that OFB pointed out most of these “clear” deficiencies early on in the pandemic. She noted the hope is this petition will show Oregon who farmers really are.
“Agricultural employers are willing to walk the walk, when it comes to protecting the people that live and work on their farms. They really do care. And if they’re allowed a seat at the table, they are going to help problem solve and they’re going to come up with really good ideas. So, I hope moving forward Oregon-OSHA will really seriously consider all of the ideas put forth by housing providers in the petition.”
Bayer added in the long-run, she hopes all parties will move toward a more collaborative relationship.
Click Here to read the OFB’s Petition.
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