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Programs launched to assist farmworkers in self-quarantine

Oregon Worker Relief Fund

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Gov. Kate Brown, along with a statewide coalition, announced Saturday the launch of a new source of financial assistance for agricultural workers who must self-quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund will provide up to two weeks of financial relief to agricultural workers 18 and older, regardless of immigration status. 

Additionally on Saturday, the Oregon Health Authority launched the Community Partners and Outreach – Protecting Oregon Farmworkers Program.

Agricultural workers who are recuperating from COVID-19 or are in self-quarantine may now apply to the Quarantine Fund through local community-based partners. The fund is administered by the Oregon Worker Relief Coalition, working in collaboration with state agencies and the Governor's Office.

“This pandemic has exacerbated disparities in our systems that already existed—especially for low-income communities, rural communities, immigrants, and communities of color,” Brown said. “Oregonians working in agriculture and food processing are providing a vital service, ensuring families continue to have food on their tables and grocery store shelves during this pandemic. And yet, the nature of this work puts agricultural and food processing workers at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19." 

The Quarantine Fund has been designed as a policy centered on the lived experience of Oregon’s agricultural workers. With an average wage of $24,200 per year, most agricultural workers cannot afford to take time off to quarantine if they come in contact with COVID-19. Time and again, food packing and agriculture worksites are overrepresented in workplace outbreaks tracked by the Oregon Health Authority.

“Many in our state’s agricultural workforce are immigrants who have been left out of federal relief programs, creating additional financial stress for families,” said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director at PCUN, Oregon's Farmworker Union.”

Agricultural workers can apply for relief through local community-based organizations here or by calling 1-888-274-7292.

The Community Partners and Outreach – Protecting Oregon Farmworkers Program will provide funding for community partners with demonstrated experience serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers to conduct field education and outreach.

The program will also support community partners in engagement activities aimed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and provide agricultural workers with information on housing, transportation, the Quarantine Fund, and other wraparound services developed in response to the pandemic.

“Governor Brown’s strong efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis within the farming community of Oregon has enabled state agencies, including OHA, to provide services to those communities on the front line,” said Oliver Vera, OHA Community Partner Outreach Program Manager. “At OHA, community partnerships are essential to ensure we reach Oregon farmworkers to mitigate the harmful impact of this disease on Oregon’s workers and its food supply.”

Additional details about the Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund, including the eligibility and application process, are available at bit.ly/q-fund and bit.ly/fondo-cuarentena.

Additional information about the OHA Community Partner Outreach Program (CPOP) is available at bit.ly/2CY5OYA.


New fund launches to assist Oregon agricultural workers who need to self-quarantine

Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund will help slow the spread of COVID-19 by supporting the workers who keep Oregon fed

PORTLAND, Ore.—The statewide coalition that created the Oregon Worker Relief Fund announced Saturday the launch of a new source of financial assistance for agricultural workers who are self-quarantining to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Oregon Worker Quarantine Fund will provide up to two weeks of financial relief to agricultural workers age 18 and older, regardless of federal immigration status.

The Quarantine Fund is administered by the Oregon Worker Relief Coalition, working in collaboration with the State of Oregon and the Office of Governor Kate Brown. It will utilize the same universal state-wide application system as the Oregon Worker Relief Fund.

“When people working on farms or in food processing plants are exposed to COVID-19, they have few options to prevent the virus from spreading besides giving up their paycheck,” said Ramon Valdez, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Relationships at Innovation Law Lab. “The Quarantine Fund will help us contain this pandemic by taking the financial stress off of workers who keep Oregonians fed and agricultural businesses running.”

The Quarantine Fund has been designed to center the lived experience of Oregon’s agricultural workers. With an average wage of $24,200 per year, most agricultural workers report that they cannot afford to take two weeks off to Quarantine if they were in contact with COVID-19. Food packing and agriculture worksites are overrepresented in workplace outbreaks tracked by the Oregon Health Authority.

“Many in our state’s agricultural workforce are immigrants who have been left out of federal relief programs, creating additional financial stress for families,” said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director at PCUN, Oregon's Farmworker Union. “At the same time, COVID-19 outbreaks have been more common at agricultural worksites where it is necessary for people to work close together. Open to all agricultural workers, regardless of immigration status, the Quarantine Fund fills a gap for people who are keeping the food supply-chain up and running.”

The Quarantine Fund provides up to 2 weeks of financial relief to eligible applicants, with the ability to re-apply if they need to quarantine again. The relief payments—$430 for one-week and $860 for two-weeks—are determined with the average weekly living expense factor.

Agricultural workers can apply for relief through local community-based organizations.  

Portland Metro

  • Adelante Mujeres
  • APANO
  • Bienestar
  • Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project
  • Causa Oregon

Oregon Coast

  • Centro de Ayuda
  • Lower Columbia Hispanic Council

Willamette Valley

  • PCUN
  • Centro Latino Americano

Eastern Oregon

  • EUVALCREE
  • Oregon Human Development Corporation

Central Oregon

  • Latino Community Association
  • Oregon Human Development Corporation

Columbia River Gorge

  • The Next Door, Inc

Southern Oregon

  • Unete. Center for Farm Worker Advocacy

Additional details about the Oregon Worker Quarantine Funding, including eligibility and application process, are available at bit.ly/q-fund and bit.ly/fondo-cuarentena.

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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