PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon will invest $30 million in COVID-19 relief funding to protect essential agricultural workers and help secure the state’s food supply, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday.
"Oregon’s agricultural workers are on the frontlines during this COVID-19 crisis, working to provide food for Oregon families,” said Brown in a news release. “This investment will bring essential resources to agricultural producers and farmworkers, providing critical resources to keep workers safe and mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks while protecting the food supply chain.”
The announcement came days after the Oregon Health Authority announced it was investigating an outbreak affecting dozens of workers at two Townsend Farms Cannery locations. Workers arrived in the Portland area May 23 and 24 to harvest fruit from Townsend-owned sites in Fairview and Cornelius.
Officials believe the people affected were exposed to the virus before they arrived in Oregon.
The governor’s office released the following details about the investment:
- Distribution of 1 million face masks and 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to the agricultural and farmworker communities announced earlier this week.
- $14 million for mitigation of COVID-19 outbreaks, including a quarantine fund for recovering workers, PPE and outreach grants to organizations serving migrant seasonal farmworkers.
- $10 million for agriculture workforce housing.
- $5 million for additional COVID-19 field sanitation.
- $1 million to support additional physical distancing requirements for employer-provided transportation in response to OR-OSHA temporary rules.
"Times were tough in agriculture before the pandemic, and they are much tougher now," said Oregon Farm Bureau Executive Director Dave Dillion. "This assistance package is a very important step toward helping Oregon's farm and ranch families meet the new standards OR-OSHA has put in place for this growing season."
Learn more from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.