During a meeting of the State Food and Ag Board on Tuesday, Chris Valadez (above), president of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, thanked CDFA Secretary Karen Ross for quickly sending masks to farmers.

As wildfires broke out in August, smoke haze inundated field workers throughout the Central Coast and Central Valley, triggering a new labor law requiring N95 respirators. Ross immediately messaged agricultural stakeholders that N95 masks were on the way, said Valadez.

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“Just knowing that allowed, for example, Monterey County to move masks [into the agricultural supply chain] that it had largely dedicated for other frontline workers,” he said.

Her efforts put masks in the hands of ag employees as much as 36 hours earlier than it would have taken otherwise, he explained.

Board President Don Cameron said he was able to pick up masks for his farm right away from the Fresno County ag commissioner, owing to a new supply on the way.