FFVA Urges DeSantis to Prioritize Vaccines for Agricultural Workforce

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Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) Chair Aaron Troyer, on behalf of FFVA members, sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis this week urging for priority distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine for Florida’s agricultural workforce.

While FFVA strongly supports that healthcare workers and long-term care facilities receive first priority, Troyer urged for prioritizing Florida agriculture after those groups to ensure a continued 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,” the letter stated. “As you well know, Florida is the ‘winter bread basket’ for the entire country and a key economic driver for the state. The health and well-being of the agriculture workforce is the top priority for Florida growers.”

Florida growers have already taken extraordinary measures, completed extensive training and made substantial investments in workforce protection against COVID-19 since the start. However, there is still concern for COVID-19 impacts on the workforce without access to a vaccine in the coming months.

See attached letter:

December 2, 2020

The Honorable Ron DeSantis

Governor, State of Florida

The Capitol400 S. Monroe St.Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor DeSantis:

On behalf of the members of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, I am writing to strongly urge that the state include agricultural workers among its top priorities for the COVID-19 vaccine allocation. 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. 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. As you well know, Florida is the “winter bread basket” for the entire country and a key economic driver for the state. The health and well-being of the agriculture workforce is the top priority for Florida growers, who have taken extraordinary measures, completed extensive training and made substantial investments in workforce protection against COVID-19 since the start. However, our growing season has only just begun, generating concern of anticipated impacts on our workforce heading in to the winter months if there is still no vaccine available.

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. Despite best efforts, this virus has proven unstoppable, and no industry is immune to its impacts. But, this industry is resilient, and we will continue to do all we can to protect our workers. That said, priority distribution of a vaccine to agricultural workers ensures a healthy workforce and that food will continue to flow from the farm to consumers.

Thank you for your leadership and consideration of this request. We stand ready to partner to ensure all of Florida’s essential workers have access to vaccines when available.

Sincerely,

Aaron Troyer

Troyer Brothers FL, Inc.

Chair, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association: