Creston, BC – April 23, 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how all businesses, organizations and people operate. The agricultural industry is no exception to this. Food producers will need to make significant changes to their processes to ensure compliance with all Provincial and Federal orders, including that of our Provincial Medical Health Officer who has declared the food chain as an essential service. Our Federal and Provincial governments recognize that temporary farm workers play an important part in our agricultural industry, and they are working in close partnership with communities to develop and implement protocols to protect our citizens, workers and businesses alike.
In the Creston Valley, asparagus will be our first major agricultural harvest. The Ministry of Agriculture, Interior Health, the Town of Creston, and individual farmers have worked together to modify business practices to incorporate enhanced measures to protect the health and safety of their employees and of our community, while incorporating WorkSafeBC guidelines. These measures include, but are not limited to: providing on-site meals and accommodation for temporary farm workers during their 14 day quarantine period upon arrival; providing on-site meals and accommodation for temporary farm workers during the harvest period; developing “what if” scenarios to respond to operational and/or health challenges throughout the entire process; and making in-house process changes to address physical distancing requirements.
The practice and implementation of these operational plans are being closely monitored by the Town of Creston’s Emergency Operations Centre and Interior Health, with the hope that this approach will be able to serve as a model moving forward into growing season.
The level of collaboration that has been shown by all involved is remarkable and appreciated. The health and safety of our community remains a top priority for us all.