The following letter was delivered to Governor Inslee March 18, 2020, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a call to keep Washington agriculture moving forward in uncertain times.
We understand COVID-19 is creating a stressful time and policy decisions are extremely difficult and fluid. You can be assured Washington’s farmers, dairies, livestock auction markets, ranchers and food processors are doing and will continue to do everything in their power to provide nutritious, affordable food for the state, nation and world in these challenging times.
We are collectively taking all possible precautions to keep our communities, transportation systems, farm supply, food processing, packing, workers and farm families safe. However, we do want to voice our concern that restrictions on food production/distribution could devastate our ability to be part of the solution regarding food security for all citizens if critical food production and delivery activities were curtailed.
We are also mindful that many vulnerable people across the state will depend on take-out and delivery from our restaurants. Especially at a time where stores are crowded, the connection to restaurants provides a social and nutritional connection needed for the health of our older and health-challenged residents. Restaurants remain a vital part of the Farm-to-Table food chain.
Farming can’t be put on hold given the short window of time for planting and performing critical agricultural activities, any delays would disrupt the current, and future, food supply.
The undersigned agricultural organizations represent farmers and ranchers from every corner of Washington state. We are writing to request that agricultural and food processing/distribution activities be exempted, to the greatest extent possible, from future proclamations restricting Washington citizens in response to COVID-19.
This request includes all activities needed in the production of agricultural commodities like seed, fertilizer, water, fuel, pesticides, packing materials, packaging and repair parts, as well as inspection and transportation as needed, including movement to and from Washington’s food processors.
We also request that our port facilities be considered an essential service and allowed to continue operations. Ports play an essential and significant role in the overall food supply chain.
We know you have a very difficult job and combating COVID-19 is very important to our entire state, including Washington’s farmers, dairies, livestock auction markets, ranchers, food processors and the communities that depend on them.
Accordingly, please exempt agricultural activities from future Proclamations in response to COVID-19. If that is possible, we can collectively keep our resilient agricultural community providing wholesome food to those in need during these uncertain times.
WASHINGTON’S AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY
HighLine Grain Growers Inc.
Hop Growers of Washington
Northwest Agricultural Cooperative Council
Northwest Farm Credit Services
Northwest Grain Growers Inc.
Washington Asparagus Commission
Washington Association of Wheat Growers
Washington Blueberry Commission
Washington Brewers Guild
Washington Cattlemen’s Association
Washington Cattle Feeders Association
Washington Farm Bureau
Washington Friends of Farms & Forests
Washington Grain Commission
Washington Livestock Marketing Association
Washington Potato & Onion Association
Washington Public Ports Association
Washington Red Raspberry Commission
Washington Seed Potato Commission
Washington State Dairy Federation
Washington State Potato Commission
Washington State Tree Fruit Association
Washington State Water Resources Association
Washington Winegrowers Association
Washington Wine Institute