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Farmers voice frustrations after being left off vaccine eligibility list

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ALBANY (WBNG) -- New York adjusted its vaccine eligibility list once again this week, but didn't include farmers. Now, they're voicing their frustrations.

New York Farm Bureau Director of Communications Steve Ammerman said that farmers and farmworkers have been an important part of the food supply chain throughout the pandemic.

"They were told that you're essential, that you're important, that you matter, but when it comes time for the vaccine, they keep getting pushed down the list," he said.

Ammerman added that the virus is a very real threat to farmworkers, especially to those who live in worker housing on farms.

"That's why the vaccine is essential. We need to protect these valuable employees and make sure that their own health and safety is protected, but also that they have the ability to work, the ability to make a living, and the ability to grow the food that feeds us all," Ammerman said.

In January, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo along with Senator Michelle Hinchey sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, encouraging the state to allow for farmers to have access to the vaccine as soon as possible.

On Thursday, Lupardo provided 12 News with a statement on the matter, saying, "I wrote to the Governor and Health Commissioner about this more than six weeks ago and have been in regular contact with the Governor’s office. This is an urgent matter given the nature of farm work and how essential food production is. I have been advised that they will be included when supplies catch up with demand, but this cannot happen soon enough."

New York's Department of Health responded with a statement, writing, "As vaccine supply from the federal government has expanded under President Biden’s leadership, we have opened up eligibility for groups of the 1B population in tranches – just as we did for 1A healthcare workers – however, demand still far outstrips supply, and this is an ongoing process. As more New Yorkers are vaccinated and more doses arrive, we will continue to work with all partners, including agricultural workers’ groups and farm advocacy organizations so these workers can get vaccinated."

Kienan Dixon

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