Farmers fighting for COVID vaccine

WWNY Farmers fighting for COVID vaccine

TOWN OF ELLISBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - New York farmers are making noise after still being left off the state’s COVID vaccine eligibility list.

There’s plenty of work to do on Sheland farms in the town of Ellisburg and plenty of animals too.

“We milk about 900 cows and we farm about 3,000 acres,” said Devon Shelmidine, Jefferson County Farm Bureau president.

Shelmidine is pushing for agricultural workers to be on the state’s list to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s time that these workers were put on the forefront of the groups that are being added,” he said.

The state’s list grew longer this week, but farmers were left off it.

New York Farm Bureau President and Madrid farmer David Fisher says protecting these workers from COVID protects so much more.

“The farming community is the first step in the supply chain of food,” he said.

Trying to avoid a break in the supply chain is just one reason New York farmers are fighting for a vaccine. Another? Someone’s got to take care of the animals.

“Animals need to be fed, they need to be cleaned, they need to be taken care of. We need our workers, our employees to be able to be here safely and healthy to take care of the animals,” said Shelmidine.

Shelmidine and Fisher say the state hasn’t said why they are being overlooked.

Federal guidance puts them in Phase 1B.

Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche agrees it’s time for the agriculture community to be on the state’s list.

“But, everybody needs to recognize that getting a spot on the list doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a vaccine tomorrow,” he said.

Farmers hope they and their workers can get a jab soon.

Copyright 2021 WWNY. All rights reserved.