It all started with a COVID-19 outbreak in March on VRP Farms in Picture Butte, Alberta. “It was an extremely trying time,” says Jolayne Farn, HR Manager of VRP. “Having 11 confirmed cases and 42 staff off work and quarantined showed us we never wanted to have to operate like that again. Even though we currently had strict control measures in place to help prevent COVID -19 from entering our facilities it still found us.”
Farn says it affected everyone from barn crew, pen riders to the management team and the business saw significant impacts. “1 lot had NO riders, 4 lots were out of commission and ensuring the cattle were fed each day, we were totally off the market for a week, no shipping, no bringing animals in. The affects staggered all the way into the next month,” Farn explains.
VRP Farms operates a number of feedlots and farms, a trucking division and the Roto-Mix business; their reach is far and contact tracing was a significant undertaking. Once vaccines became an option for Canadians, VRP got to work ensuring their employees were protected.
‘For the health and safety of our employees, our farm, and our community, we wanted everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” says Farn. VRP recently brought in 11 (SAWP) seasonal agricultural workers and were working with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society to obtain support on newcomer’s settlement support such as – SIN #, bank accounts, PO Box #s, drivers’ licenses etc. This led to the idea of vaccinating everyone on site to reduce travel and logistics coordination.
“We vaccinated about 55 people on site,” says Farn. “We opened it up to neighbouring feedlots and farms as well and it was great to see a couple of other operations join in on the day. We just want other producers to know that their foreign workers are as eligible as the Canadian workers and able to be protected as well.”
ACFA congratulates VRP for leading the way on vaccinating their team; for more information on VRP’s clinic, please contact ACFA.