The coronavirus is also putting agriculture in distress, because it is not possible to hire foreign farmhands. However, with pragmatic solutions and a positive attitude local farmers handle this issue.
The cows have been moved to higher pastures, the Alpine summer has begun. But as a result of the coronavirus, farmers cannot count on foreign farmhands as usual. While it was still possible to call on helpers from sectors that had been shut down by the lockdown, such as catering sector, during the preparation period, most of them return to their original workplace after the lockdown. What next? "Now we will just have to do everything ourselves," laughs Patricia von Grünigen from the Agricultural Association Saanenland (LVS). In a more serious tone she confirms that some farmers are affected by this shortage of workers. Christoph Bach, President of the LVS, also knows of farmers whose helpers have not yet all arrived.
Foreign Alpine farmhand are often used for physically demanding work, such as haymaking in the valley, explains von Grünigen: "Rural life is not a Heidiland, you have to be clear about what you are getting into." Bach knows that foreign farmhands know what to expect. They are physically ready and motivated to do this kind of work. Unemployed Swiss residents, a possible replacement for workers from abroad may underestimate the work and find themselves unable to fulfil the demanding in the long run. But Bach emphasises that this is not the case with everyone.
Also, a number of farmhands could enter the country, Jörg Gander, vice-president of the LVS, reports. He is not aware of any case in which a farmer got into trouble because of the absence of foreign helpers. The LVA has no such cases on record at present.
Based on AvS/Kerem S. Maurer