By Clint Thompson
President Joe Biden’s wish that businesses require COVID-19 vaccines for their employees has Ag leaders concerned about its potential impact for farmers.
Allison Crittenden, Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), offers her concerns about the ramifications that implementing such a mandate would have on local producers.
“We are always focused on how the farmer will be impacted by any new regulation or any new requirement. We are certainly and have been very involved in promoting getting the vaccine in hopes that folks have made the choice to do that at this point,” Crittenden said. “I do want to make sure that any kind of regulation like this that is imposed particularly on farmers is not one size fits all and doesn’t create some sort of hurdle where enforcement measures could place a burden on agriculture.
“We’ve been encouraging folks to get vaccinated. Back in the thick of the pandemic when vaccination wasn’t widely available, we advocated very strongly for agriculture to have priority access to those vaccines. We certainly understand the importance of them, but we also want to make sure any new regulation doesn’t place an added burden on those farmers, those agricultural employers.”
The president asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in September to compose rules and regulations that would require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations or testing every week. OSHA is continuing the rule-making process which puts the American Farm Bureau Federation in a wait-and-see mode.
“We are certainly waiting to see what that standard looks like when it’s published and comes out of OSHA. We’ll probably have a better idea of the actual impact on Ag once we have all those details,” Crittenden said. “In the meantime, we’re encouraging folks to still get their shot and hopefully perhaps, get this pandemic in a better place where something like this may not thought to be needed.”