The early onset of the coronavirus pandemic spelled doom for certain sectors of the agricultural industry. Restaurants shut down, unemployment rose, and suddenly, fruit and vegetable producers across the Southeast faced a decreased demand for their produce.
There was also temporary concern among farmers about how suspended travel from foreign countries would impact H-2A workers trying to get in the country to help harvest the crops when they were needed the most.
Could the country experience a similar shutdown once President-Elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, especially since COVID-19 cases continue to surge?
No Shutdown Planned
According to media reports, Biden has said he wouldn’t put the country through another national shutdown to try to slow the virus’ spread.
This would be great news for those producers who will rely on H-2A workers to be in place to harvest their crops next spring, according to Allison Crittendon, Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
“I think when we had the shutdown back in March, we had no idea what this virus really was or how it spread. It’s crazy to think back in March masks weren’t known as what you had to do. Now we certainly have more information and more clarity about how to go about trying to achieve essential operations like food production as safe as possible,” Crittendon said.
“I hope that with all of the information we’ve now gathered over the last several months that we could avoid a shutdown. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were further requirements for employers to adhere to when it comes to mitigating the spread once folks are on the farm and have traveled over here from their home country.
“Hopefully, since we now have more information about the virus, we won’t have to revert to those early practices of shutting everything off completely when it comes to travel of our essential workers.”