Part of FAN's mission is to provide in-depth research about farmworkers and poultry workers to policy makers so that they have access to the information they need to make good decisions. Below you'll see titles and excerpts from a wide variety of research-based articles and reports about farmworkers. Click on any article to download the full text.
Policy Brief on Meeting the Requirements for Occupation Safety and Sanitation for Migrant Farmworkers in NC
Although they help feed America, farmworkers often face substandard conditions and food insecurity at their own tables. Farmworkers put food on the American table and serve as a key component of the agricultural industry. However, their participation in feeding others is no guarantee of their own ability to feed themselves and their families adequately, that is, to maintain food security and food safety. While low wages and insufficient money to buy food are significant obstacles to food security among farmworkers, the condition of the housing they occupy plays a role that is often overlooked, particularly for food safety.
For many migrant farmworkers, the health risks don’t stop at the end of the workday. After long, arduous hours in the field, where workers face risks ranging from tractor accidents and musculoskeletal injuries to pesticide exposure and heat stroke, many will return to a home that also poses dangers to their well-being. And quite ironically for a group of workers that harvests our nation’s food, one of those housing risks is poor cooking and eating facilities.
Water is the essence of human life. It is part of every cell, and is vital for every function of our body. The World Health Organization has declared that safe water is a basic human right. Migrant farmworkers in the United States are at increased risk for illness and injuries, including those that result from consuming unsafe drinking water. The quality of drinking water was studied in 181 migrant farmworker camps in eastern North Carolina from June through October, 2010.
Today, the Food Chain Workers Alliance releases a new report, The Hands That Feed Us: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers Along the Food Chain, the first of its kind that looks at wages and working conditions of workers across the entire food chain – a sector that employs 20 million people in the U.S., comprising one-sixth of the nation’s workforce. The Hands That Feed Us is based on nearly 700 surveys and interviews with workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service, which collectively sell over $1.8 trillion dollars in goods and services annually, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
This 95-page report describes rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, or vulgar and obscene language by supervisors, employers, and others in positions of power. Most farmworkers interviewed said they had experienced such treatment or knew others who had. And most said they had not reported these or other workplace abuses, fearing reprisals. Those who had filed sexual harassment claims or reported sexual assault to the police had done so with the encouragement and assistance of survivor advocates or attorneys in the face of difficult challenges.
Migrant farmworkers endure some of the worst housing conditions in North Carolina. Federal and state laws set minimum standards for migrant worker housing. In the largest and most comprehensive study of farmworker housing conducted in the Southeast, researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine found multiple violations of state and federal housing standards in every camp they studied.
A Cross-Sectional Exploration of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, Depression, and Musculoskeletal Pain among Migrant Farmworkers
In this study the authors estimated the prevalence of elevated daytime sleepiness, depressive symptoms, and musculoskeletal pain among Latino migrant farmworkers, and examined the relationship among these symptoms. Data are from a cross-sectional survey of migrant farmworkers conducted in eastern North Carolina in 2009. Eleven percent of Latino farmworkers reported elevated levels of daytime sleepiness, 28% reported elevated levels of depressive symptoms, and 5% reported moderate to severe musculoskeletal pain on a daily or weekly basis.
Migrant farmworkers in North Carolina reported eye injuries, circumstances of injuries, and outcomes during lifetime U.S. agriculture work. Seventeen injuries were reported by 15 farmworkers; five resulted in lost work time. Most reported injuries were penetrating or open wounds, often caused by branches or other foreign objects. Injuries were seldom reported to employers; and treatment at clinics, when received, was often delayed.
For more than a century, agriculture has been an entry point into the labor market for immigrants in the United States. Presently, close to three-fourths of all U.S. hired farm workers are immigrants, most of them unauthorized. Their unauthorized legal status, low wages, and an inconsistent work schedule contribute to a precarious economic state.Immigrant farm workers fill low-wage jobs that citizens are reluctant to take. Attempts to recruit citizens for farm worker jobs have failed. Domestic production of fruits and vegetables could decrease without immigrant farm workers.
The federal program meant to provide a legal workforce for farmers to harvest crops in the absence of domestic labor has grown rife with abuse and lacks needed protections for the thousands of guest workers laboring to put food on America’s tables, according to a new report released today. The report by Farmworker Justice offers an in-depth look at the violations and abuses of the federal H-2A agricultural guest worker program, exposing the fundamental flaws of guest worker models and revealing the program’s effect of keeping wages low in the U.S. for both foreign and domestic workers. North Carolina has more H-2A guest workers than any other state. For North Carolina, which boasts an agricultural industry worth over $2.8 billion, the Department of labor certified 9,387 guest workers, or 95 percent of the applicants.
Not only are migrant farm workers in North Carolina often exposed to hazardous pesticides that are damaging to their health, but a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that many of these same workers also face wage violations. The study, conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, found that nearly 20 percent of all farm workers in North Carolina had experienced wage violations in their work and many didn’t even make minimum wage. The study also found an association between wage violations and pesticide safety regulation violations. In fact, two thirds of farm workers had not been provided with required pesticide safety training, and only half were informed when pesticides had been applied to the fields where they worked. The study is published in the journal New Solutions (Vol. 21). The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health.
In this 99-page report, Human Rights Watch found that child farmworkers risked their safety, health, and education on commercial farms across the United States. For the report, Human Rights Watch interviewed 59 children under age 18 who had worked as farmworkers in 14 states in various regions of the United States.