The state’s largest farm groups responded Thursday to Newsom’s ambitious directive on workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19, saying it “will add more financial weight at a very difficult time.”

The joint statement was issued by the Agricultural Council of California, California Farm Bureau Federation, California Fresh Fruit Association and Western Growers.

“The added economic burden of medical claims related to COVID-19 should be borne by the government," the groups argued, "not the essential industries providing a public good during a global pandemic.”

The executive order issued this week shifts the burden of proof to the employer on whether the illness came from the workplace during the period that California has been under lockdown. Employers also have a reduced timeframe for rebutting claims.