There's a push to make agriculture workers a higher priority when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Ag workers are critical to the economy, and moving them closer to the head of the line is important, state officials said.
In his annual address Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler called for farmers, meat processors and more to be included in Group 3 as frontline essential workers, but that's a large group.
Henderson County Cooperative Extension Director Dr. Terry Kelley said agriculture workers are especially important because shortages in labor have a huge ripple effect on the state's economy.
"As you saw last year, we had food shortages, long lines at the grocery store, we saw some grocery shelves empty, we saw higher prices for meat and stuff like that," Kelley said. "So, you know, it just goes to show you what happens when there's a break in the food supply chain."
Troxler said the state received $20 million in CARES Act money specifically for agriculture, and $750,000 went to help farmers markets, many of which are in Western North Carolina.