With the March 2 announcement of new emergency rules from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) aimed at protecting seasonal agricultural workers during the pandemic, farm employers are looking to better understand the differences between these regulations and those previously issued by Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
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According to Michigan Farm Bureau Legislative Counsel Ben Tirrell, while the rules are broadly similar, there are several nuances farm employers should pay close attention to.
“Most licensed labor camp operators will be able to build on their preexisting COVID-19 preparedness and response plans,” Tirrell said. “Many of the requirements such as distance between beds and isolation housing remain largely unchanged.”
He explained that the most significant changes include:
“For farm employers already licensed for the 2021 growing season, there are less than 30 days to comply with the new orders,” Tirrell added. “We encourage employers to utilize the MDARD COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan checklist and review the associated Frequently Asked Questions document as soon as possible.”