Vancouver Island farmers credit foreign workers with saving season
Published Sunday, July 19, 2020 1:03PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, July 19, 2020 1:15PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Temporary foreign workers from Mexico are being credited with saving the season for several farms near Victoria as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on.
In turn, farmers are showing their gratitude.
“They are not just workers,” Terry Michell, a farmer on the Saanich Peninsula, told CTV News. “They are professional in what they do and they know the business.”
Without the help of foreign workers, he says he would only have been able to plant and harvest roughly half the 450 acres and 30 crops of his farm.
But since the workers, who come primarily from Mexico, were allowed in this country and able to follow quarantine rules upon arrival, Michell had the workforce he needed.
About half his team arrived over several weeks in April, May and June after the province created two-week quarantine program at a cost of $9.5 million.
Rob Galey operates another farm in Saanich and says the 10,000 farm workers who come to B.C. every year shouldn't be called “temporary” or even “workers” because some have been coming for years and deserve a title that reflects their expertise.
Their title should be changed to “foreign farmers,” he says.
Galey also credits the farmers with a successful season so far.
“If they had not arrived at the time they did,” he said, “we would have surely lost over half our crops and we’d be behind in our planting.”
With files from The Canadian Press.