The restrictions placed on cross-border movement stemming from the pandemic has many farmers growing concerned as planting season looms. Vegetable growers in the Holland March are afraid their crops won't even get planted with the new travel restrictions denying thousands of temporary foreign workers from coming into Canada from Mexico.
"They are essential to this industry. If we don't have them we won't have help to grow the crops they need," says Jody Mott, Holland Marsh Growers Association. "They're trained. They know what they are doing."
Fruit and vegetable growers were expecting almost 5,000 workers to arrive over the next four weeks with another 8,000 two months later.
John Hambly, Gwillimdale Farms, grows vegetables on 1,200 acres and was expecting 25 workers to help. "Agriculture needs more help. We do need workers to come and help with the planting this season." If planting season is missed, the entire 2020 crop could be at risk, and that could lead to food shortages in the future.
According to Hambly, the government needs to find a way to get essential farm-workers across the border. With cold storage facilities piled high with root vegetables, Canadians could be at the mercy of other countries for food in these unprecedented times.
The Growers' Association says farmers are willing to work with all levels of government and do whatever necessary to get those essential workers.