Agriculture Must Be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration earlier this week, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America’s farmers and farm workers. Arizona has prioritized its agriculture workforce.
“We fully appreciate and support that our nation’s heroic first responders, medical professionals, the elderly and caretakers, along with other vulnerable individuals, clearly have the highest priority for vaccination,” President Duvall wrote. “As new COVID-19 vaccines are approved and ready for distribution, we encourage the administration to support granting priority vaccine access to employees across the food and agriculture supply chain. This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked.”
The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF’s request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, and the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations.
“This request is largely consistent with the approach Arizona has taken in prioritizing farmers and farm workers for the vaccine and has served us well,” said Arizona Farm Bureau CEO Philip Bashaw. “We would like to see this same approach taken nationwide in recognition of the importance of keeping our nation's pantries stocked and our farmers and ranchers in the fields and on the range.”
“Like all Americans, we are thankful for the unprecedented research effort that has led to the development of multiple new vaccines and anxiously awaits the vaccine supply to meet current demand,” President Duvall continued. “In addition to employee health concerns, the coronavirus spread among the workforce leaves critical positions unfilled, current employees stretched thin and the threat of additional farm and processing facility shutdowns. This situation could again create disruptions and shortages in the food supply chain: a situation I’m confident we all hope to avoid.”
Read the full letter.