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Oregon National Guard distributes PPE to farmers across the state

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FILE – In this May 23, 2019, file photo, a farmer plants soybeans in a field in Springfield, Neb. China’s imports of soybeans surged in November following the announcement of an interim trade deal with the United States. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Farmers have recently been speaking out about how complying with COVID-19 regulations is going to put them under — but now Oregon Governor Kate Brown is directing the distribution of masks and sanitizer to help them.​

The Oregon National Guard is delivering ​1 million N-95 masks and 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to farm workers throughout the state. ​

Oregon farmworkers can get free PPE at these locations

“We’re getting 560 face masks and 4 gallons of hand sanitizers,” said Brian Parks, a tree farmer in Boring, Oregon​

Farmers like Parks are flocking to locations such as the Oregon State University Extension Service’s drive-thru, where they can pick up this personal protective equipment — for free — to prevent the spread of COVID-19. ​​

Farmers say protection like these masks have been hard to come by. ​

“We’ve actually been having somebody sew them — but as far as ordering we haven’t been able to find very many at all.”​

Leah Sundquist with OSU Extension says the PPE comes from Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Emergency Management and the Oregon National Guard. ​

“It’s been difficult for [the farmers], I think we’re all finding ways of operating in this new normal,” said Sundquist. “I think this is a good opportunity that will help them.”

This protective gear also comes after we’ve reported on outbreaks of COVID-19 at food processing and agricultural facilities — for instance, at  firestone pacific foods in Vancouver.

“I think it’s a matter of getting the word out that the best thing to do is wear the face mask,” said Sundquist.

With harvest just around the corner, farmers hope this protection will help them reap what they’ve sown.​

There’s about 18 sites like the one at OSU’s site throughout the state and limited supplies will be provided Wednesday and Thursday until supplies are fully distributed. ​Documentation is not required but those picking up PPE will be asked to provide business contact information.

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