Creston, BC – June 2, 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused food producers to make significant changes to their processes in compliance with Provincial and Federal regulations, including that of our Provincial Medical Health Officer who declared the food chain 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.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay in partnership with the Town of Creston established an Economic Recovery Committee “the Committee” to help industry in adopting and communicating the necessary guidelines and Orders from the Federal and Provincial Government. At this time, the Committee is focused on supporting the Agricultural Industry in the Creston Valley. This includes engaging community partners, the Interior Health Authority, and working with farmers and orchardists to ensure the health and safety of employees and the community through investment in worker accommodation infrastructure. Additionally, the Committee will support farmers with health and safety training for their workers and provide ongoing support throughout the harvest season.
In the Creston Valley, asparagus was the 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 and 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. While the asparagus harvest operates on a smaller scale than cherry/other fruit harvest the actions taken to support safe operations will inform future planning.
For more information on the Provincial response: