Farmers are still struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. So, nearly 170 farm groups are calling for federal help in getting personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing resources for farmworkers “as we continue to promote the health and safety of our farm employees and rural communities.”

The pleas came in a letter Thursday to Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The groups signing on include the National Council of Farm Cooperatives, the American Farm Bureau Federation, state and county Farm Bureaus, the National Farmers Union and a host of commodity organizations.  

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The groups want the task force to “prioritize PPE and future vaccine distribution for the food and fiber supply chain” and also ensure that testing resources - and prompt test results - are readily accessible to ag employers. Getting test results promptly also is a challenge, the groups say. “In some regions, it has taken almost two weeks for COVID-19 test results, which creates an increased risk of disease spread and potentially delays agricultural productivity,” the letter says.

Also on the group’s wish list: Alternative housing structures such as FEMA trailers to facilitate social distancing and help with COVID-19 mitigation expenses.