North Carolina health officials are sending $900,000 worth of masks and other safety supplies to local farmers and agriculture workers over the course of this week.
When Matt Rudd at Rudd Farm heard free personal protective equipment was headed his way, he was excited.
“It was like, wow, that’s something that’ll be beneficial for lots of farms,” he said.
This assistance from the state lessens the financial burden on farm owners already stretched thin because of COVID-19.
“Any little thing that can help, that’s one less expense,” Rudd said.
Steve Troxler, North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, said this effort is important to protect these essential workers.
“We are dependent on these farmworkers for the efficiency of our farms and the food supply,” Troxler said.
Because if one worker gets sick it can have a major effect.
“It doesn’t just affect them, it can affect your whole business,” Rudd said.
Rudd Farm experienced this back in April, after shutting down for weeks when several workers contracted COVID-19.
“You worry about all your employees and what are they doing. You want them to stay safe,” Rudd said.
Secretary Mandy Cohen of the North Carolina Health and Human Services Department said some of these migrant farmworkers live in group housing, putting them at higher risk for getting the coronavirus.
Rudd said they look forward to having extra supplies on top of what they’ve already purchased, so his employees can even stay safe at home.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep our employees safe and try not to have to go through this again,” Rudd said.
Troxler said farmers are instructed to call their local cooperative extension office to receive their PPE.