This is a summary of 15 years in agricultural safety and health, with action steps for future directions.
Summary "An Agricultural Safety and Health Conference: Using Past and Present to Map Future Actions" was held in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 2-3, 2001. Specific conference objectives were to:
- Facilitate the presentation of diverse opinions regarding the current status of agricultural safety and health.
- Provide a forum for discussions on the future research, education, training, and programming needs of agricultural safety and health.
- Afford practicing farmers, farmworkers, their families, and their respective organizations an opportunity to give their opinions on and their appraisal of the agricultural safety and health environment in which they work.
- Foster the development of recommendations on future agricultural safety and health policy by laying a foundation of information and opinion upon which to build those recommendations.
The conference attracted 165 registered participants. These participants included 26 practicing farmers. These farmers represented eight states from across the nation and were approximately 50% female. The participants also included 25 Latino practicing or former farmworkers. These farmworkers represented seven states, the three major migrant streams, and were approximately 50% female. Other participants included federal and state agency personnel, university researchers and programming personnel, agricultural industry representatives, and health professionals of all levels. Simultaneous English to Spanish oral translation was provided for the Spanish-speaking participants as needed. In addition, a Spanish-language version of the program was provided.
Over the 1/2-day conference, 7 presentations were made in the general sessions and 34 presentations were made in the concurrent sessions. These presentations were grouped under the nine arbitrary general topics of:
- Farm Populations (including NORA Special Populations)
- Hired Labor
- Public Policy
- Engineering and Technology
- Community Strategies
- Environmental Health
- Training of Agricultural Safety and Health Specialists
- Human Health (Mental and Physical)
- Agricultural Occupational Health Services and Delivery
Conference speakers were asked for their perceptions of the investments and key activities in agricultural safety and health during the period 1987 through 2001 that corresponded to their specific topic. Conference speakers were also asked to identify current gaps that remain in need of research and intervention. In addition, the speakers were asked to look to the future and anticipate changes that might impact that topic. Finally, speakers were asked for specific recommendations for future programs and policy, based on their presentation content.
As a result of conference presentations and discussions, farmworker participants asked for, and were granted, time during the final session to address the gathering with a general response to specific items brought forward during the concurrent sessions.
The consensus work-group phase began immediately following the end of the conference, with nearly 100 conference participants. Participation in the six work groups included 15 farmers. These farmers were voluntarily spread among the five of the work groups to allow for farmer interaction with safety and health professionals. In addition, 16 farmworkers met as a single group. This was done at their request. The farmworkers felt that meeting as a single group would be less threatening and also that the activity would be more efficient if conducted in Spanish, with no translation needed.
The responses elicited from the on-site work-group participants would serve as the point of departure for teleconferences over the next year. The work-group participants were guided by a facilitator to maintain contact, lead work-group teleconferences, and supply summaries of previous activities. These activities were necessary in order to reach consensus on key questions:
What are the current gaps, needs, and oversights in current activities related to agricultural safety and health?
What are your suggestions on how to address the current gaps, needs, and oversights in activities related to agricultural safety and health?
What do you see as the barriers to implementing your suggestions for addressing the current gaps, needs, and oversights in activities related to agricultural safety and health?
Following the initial consensus meeting held after the Baltimore conference, a series of teleconferences were held by the work groups to augment and refine the work begun at the initial meeting. The work groups remained as constituted during the initial meeting, that is, five work groups made up of a combination of farmers and others, and a sixth work group made up of farmworkers and that also included professionals working in that arena. Again, the farmworkers requested a separate work group to facilitate discussions, held in Spanish, and to preclude any perceived power issues.
A total of 12 facilitated teleconferences were held by the six work groups over the late summer and fall of 2001, with an average participation of six participants per call. Additional contacts with work-group participants were made using U.S. mail, electronic mail, and phone calls. Individual members of work groups who were unable to participate in specific teleconferences were provided multiple opportunities to contribute. All work-group participants were supplied with updated response/discussion lists from all the other work groups.
The face-to-face meeting in St. Louis was held on February, 27, 2002. All participants in the work groups were invited to this meeting. A total of 30 people attended the meeting-11 farmworkers, 10 farmers, and 9 "others"-all of whom attended the Baltimore conference. As with the conference, on-site oral English to Spanish and Spanish to English translations were provided along with Spanish translation of all text items.
The initial consensus meeting following the conference and the teleconferences provided the base of information use at the St. Louis meeting. The time was devoted to a final review of responses to the three key questions, with the majority of discussion centering on those items about which there were questions or disagreement. The important items of discussion are summarized as follows:
- Focus of document: Include as many items as possible while concentrating on those items that we think can have an impact.
- The face-to-face and teleconference meetings produced 13 pages of specific participant thoughts on the gaps and needs, suggestions to address the gaps and needs, and barriers related to current agricultural safety and health issues. The thoughts were organized for review under the nine arbitrary topics used for presentations at the conference.
- The majority of the gaps and needs are found within the Hired Workers and Human Health categories.
- The majority of suggestions to address the gaps and needs are found under the Farm Populations, Hired Workers, Community Strategies, and Public Policy categories.
- The majority of the barriers are found under the Farm Populations, Hired Workers, Community Strategies, and Public Policy categories.
All items contained in the summary listing will be included in the draft document as they can be within the primary consideration under item 1.
The following items merited special mention as they were among the items on which there were some questions or disagreement and about which some accommodation was reached.
- Emphasize that there are many specific agricultural safety and health concerns that overlap between farmers and migrant/seasonal farmworkers but that there are also specific items that are unique to migrant/seasonal farmworkers, and these need to be noted.
- Form a committee including Chip Petrea and farmworker and advisory committee representatives to develop a mutually acceptable farmer/farmworker identification scheme to include in recommendations.
- Include piece written by Aspacio Alcantara on disadvantages of being an undocumented farmworker as a central statement of the group's plight.
- Provide a prominent location, perhaps in a prologue, to state concerns related to the current H2A guest worker visa program.
- Provide a prominent location for a recognition of the "power" issues, with a short explanation of how these affect both the living and working environment of migrant/seasonal farmworkers.
- Include of a piece written by a family farm operator describing the perception of the difficulties these individuals face.
- Recognition that many part-time and seasonal workers on farms accept certain inherent working conditions and responsibilities within the workplace because these are the same ones that apply to the farmer/owner/employer.
- Emphasize the need for better awareness among and training of health professionals on common migrant/seasonal farmworker health issues.
- Provide a short explanation of migrant/seasonal farmworker perspectives related to reporting requirements of pesticide exposure incidents.
- In the Health Professionals section, be specific on the need for more and better education of farmers, migrant/seasonal farmworkers, and their families, as well as rural residents, regarding potential exposures to pesticides in their residences as well as at their worksites.
- Disagreement item: The issue of universal health benefits for all workers was discussed. Farmworkers and their representatives favored such, while farmers contended that this was not a benefit routinely provided for any part-time employee or even many full-time employees.
- Related to item 13 was the potential inclusion within the document of the consensus of concern toward health care costs in general.
An additional work group, consisting of designated board members from the National Institute for Farm Safety (NIFS) and the North American Agromedicine Consortium, has been formed to discuss common issues of concern related to interaction and cross-training of individuals serving in safety specialist/extension/engineer capacities and those serving in the health and medical professions. There is long-standing collaboration between individuals within the two groups, but identification of specific common concerns, identification of potential outcomes, and recommendations related to those concerns is deemed useful. While there were some pertinent items identified in the other work groups, a specific work group on the topic could not only generate potential items for use in the upcoming document but also could contribute to further interaction between the two organizations and their members.
Agricultural Safety and Health Network
Carle’s Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety
John Deere Foundation
Eastern Washington University, Center for Farm Health and Safety
The Farm Foundation
The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health*
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Safety and Health
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC Conference Grant Number R13/CCR518764-01 & PO#03DSR5-0012)**
New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health
The Occupational and Environmental Education and Outreach Center, Great Lakes Centers for
Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Office of Continuing Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Agricultural Engineering
Agricultural Safety and Health Network
Technical Editor: Dave Mason, Publication Services, Inc.
Graphic Production and Placement: Dorothy Evans, Publication Services, Inc.
Public Health Review and Content: Natalie Roy, AgriSafe Network
Subvening Camarilla: Mary Barrow and Barbara and Dave Opperman, YHWH Syndic
Petrea, R.E. (Ed.). (2003). Using History and Accomplishments to Plan for the Future: A Summary of 15
Years in Agricultural Safety and Health and Action Steps for Future Directions
. Urbana, IL: Agricultural
Safety and Health Network.
Photo Credits: AgrAbility Unlimited: pp. 10, 29, 30, 57, 76, 77; Donna Acklin: pp. 4, 46; Bob Aherin: p. 11;
Ted Funk: pp. 32, 52; Robert Hornbaker: p. 18; Ken Koelkebeck: pp. 6, 54; Steven Lacey: pp. 19, 34, 37,
38; Suzanne Mason: pp. 1, 5, 56; Chip Petrea: pp. 17, 33, 41, 48, 60.
*This publication was supported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and the University of Iowa under Grant No. 5 U50 OH07748-02. Its contents are solely the
responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of United States Department of Health
and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the University of Iowa.
**This publication was supported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under Grant No.
R13.CCR518764-01 and PO#03DSR5-0012. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the official views of United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bob Aherin, University of Illinois
Pam Elkind, Eastern Washington University
Sister Gail Grimes, Farmworker Association of Florida
Janet Ivory, New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health
Susan Jones, Western Kentucky University
Tracy Keninger, Easter Seals of Iowa
Bob McKnight, Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention
Suzanne Mason, Emory University
John May, New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health
Marge Niedda, El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas
Teresa Niedda, Farmworker Safety and Health Institute
Chip Petrea, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kathy Pitts, Eastern Washington University
CJ Tyler-Watson, Eastern Washington University
Ad Hoc Advisory Participants
Kelley Donham, University of Iowa
Bill Field, Purdue University
Eric Hallman, National Institute for Farm Safety
David Hansen, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
David Hard, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Barbara Lee, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wisconsin
Shannon Lizer, University of Illinois Medical School–Rockford
Murray Madsen, Deere and Co., Retired
Dennis Murphy, Penn State University
Steve Olenchock, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Risto Rautiainen, University of Iowa
Susan Reynolds, Progressive Foundation
Lorann Stallones, Colorado State University
Don Villarejo, Center for Rural Studies, Retired
Using History and Accomplishments to Plan for the Future
Entities Endorsing This Project and Its Activities
Center for Farm Health and Safety, Eastern Washington Univeristy
Community Health Partnership of Illinois
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
Farmworker Health and Safety Institute
Kentucky Partnership for Farm Family Health and Safety, Inc.
Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
Migrant Clinicians Network
National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety
National Institute for Farm Safety
New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health
North American Agromedicine Consortium
Penn State Agricultural Safety and Health
Dave Hansen and Leslie Nickels
Teresa Niedda, Marge Niedda, and Richard Mandelbaum
CJ Tyler-Watson and Bob Aherin
Jeff Anderson, WA
Lori Anderson, WA
Brad Baugh, WA
Karyl Baugh, WA
Ed Bell, IN
Gary Erisman, IL
Christine Freehill, IL
Mark Freehill, IL
Jennifer Felzien, CO
Paul Gunderson, ND
Anne Harder, WA
Lex Harder, WA
Dan Littrel, NE
Tammi Littrel NE
Beth Mauer, PA
Richard Mauer, PA
Cyndy Shinn, NE
Gary Shinn, NE
Bill Stutts, LA
Tammie Stutts, LA
Helen Tyler, WA
CJ Tyler-Watson, WA
Aspacio Alcántara, NY
Carolina Almanza, FL
Ramona Alvarado, IL
Herminia Arenas, CA
Alfredo Bahena, FL
Cecilia Barros, CA
Felipe Cabrera, NC
Marta Duarte, CA
José Manuel Guzmán, NJ
Richard Mandelbaum, NJ
Alicia Marentes, TX
Carlos Marentes, TX
Tirso Moreno, FL
Oscar Munoz, IL
Marge Niedda, NJ
Teresa Niedda, NJ
Eduardo Ortega, NJ
Paula Placencia, CA
Adan Jesus Quavez, NY
Angelita Rodriquez, FL
Salvador Rodriquez, WA
Salvador Villancana, NJ
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