The California Prune Board is working to keep industry members up to date with the latest information regarding COVID-19 and ensure the safety of everybody on the farm. An emphasis has been placed on providing reliable information to industry members about the best safety practices and financial assistance options that are available.
“We’re actually being inundated with emails from different employer services that we utilize, keeping us up to date. The rules are changing daily as different government agencies are issuing them, so its requiring reviewing all this stuff on a daily basis and just making sure we’re current,” said Joe Turkovich, California Prune Board Chairman. “But I would say that growers are getting lots of information.”
The Board has created a resource page on its website to help disseminate accurate information about coronavirus and provide a means for accessing the assistance being offered through the various relief packages. Turkovich said that growers are working with their employees to explain the situation created by the pandemic and “posting and giving them information on their worker rights during this period, in case family gets sick they’ll be able to stay home and take care of the family.”
Industry members are adopting new safety protocols on the farm to help limit exposure and implement social distancing measures wherever possible. Turkovich described farm employees as family, and the industry is fortunate to have the ability to spread workers out in such a way that limits the amount of interaction between employees.
“I have a small crew and we want them to be healthy. So, I’m coaching them to the best of my ability one-on-one and they’re able to work this time of year pretty much solo,” Turkovich noted. “I can give each one of them an independent job where they cannot interact with anyone up close and do their jobs and feel comfortable.”