CA Farm Bureau president says farmworker safety is priority

As California's agricultural industry faces an estimated $6-8 billion loss this year due to the pandemic, farmers and ranchers say they're working hard to keep the food supply steady and safe.
California's agricultural businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus. And as they deal with outbreaks and shipping challenges, farmers and ranchers say they're working hard to keep the food supply steady and safe.

Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau, joined ABC7 via Skype to talk about the pandemic's impact.

A new study estimates the California farm industry will have a projected loss between $6-8 billion dollars this year because of the pandemic.
"Agriculture, the central, has been severely impacted," said Johansson. "We've seen in the last in the first few months about a $2 billion loss, but estimated over the year probably about an $8 billion loss. And if you factor kind of the value added that we do - so taking that almond and flavoring it or taking the milk and making butter out of it, estimated loss for the industry this year is about $13 billion in our food processing, as well as in our farms."

The future of farming and food
"Now, we're seeing as the number spike back up, and it seems like we're going back to a shelter in place type of situation," said Johansson. "Restaurants won't open as quickly as we hoped. In fact, the restaurant associations are telling us that they anticipate over a third of the restaurants closed now, will not reopen."

Johansson said there is a lot of uncertainty, but points out the farm industry is resilient.

What are you doing to protect farmworkers?
"Any kind of food safety situation the first thing, the first step is employee hygiene and safety and health. So here at the California Farm Bureau - a lot of seminars, educating our farmers on the changing COVID rules and regulations," said Johansson. "And working with the state of California, recently over 10 million masks donated or given to the agricultural industry and getting them distributed. Working with the governor so that when we have these farmworker housing outbreaks, how can we isolate our workers and not prevent a threat amongst it."

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