Federal judge favors COVID-19 testing on farms, processing plants

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s emergency order requiring COVID-19 testing for some farms and ag processors.

The order will remain in effect requiring all migrant housing camps, all ag employers with more than 20 employees on-site at a time of migrant, H-2A, and seasonal ag workers as well as operators of greenhouses, and meat, poultry, and egg processing plants to conduct COVID-19 tests.

The suit brought forth by True Blue Berry Management, LLC, Smeltzer Orchards Co., LLC and several farm workers claimed the order targeted the Latino community and violated civil rights.

Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon appreciates the ruling, saying at a time when farms, food processing plants and migrant worker camps face 21 outbreaks, the best way to save lives is to support and test employees.  

Migrant Legal Aid and Michigan Farm Bureau supported the case while the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Farmworker Legal Services and United Farm Workers say it was absurd.

Businesses have until August 24 to meet the order requirements or could face monetary penalties.

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