Migrant and seasonal workers are an equally eligible part of the American workforce as regular farmworkers and contribute to the national GDP just as much. However, they aren’t always subject to the best working conditions.
In this post, we will explore some of the everyday struggles faced by migrant workers in the U.S.
According to section 330(g) of the Public Health Services Act, a migrant farmworker is an individual who is employed in the agriculture sector on a seasonal basis. In short, their employment contract is very temporary. Both migratory and seasonal farmworkers are hired and paid on either an hourly or daily basis.
At any given time, around 1 million to 3 million migratory and seasonal agricultural workers are employed in the U.S. besides, around 16% of the agricultural workers in the U.S. are migrants, whereas as many as 84% are seasonal workers.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the migrant farmers but also their families that are subject to health concerns specific to the agriculture industry. Farmworkers that spend long hours in direct sunlight are highly susceptible to heat-induced illnesses. At the same time, the increased exposure to toxic pesticides and other chemicals puts them at a greater risk of respiratory diseases. Given that we are living through the coronavirus, this makes the migrant workers far more susceptible.
Other than that, the use of mechanized and non-mechanized tools and equipment can lead to a wide range of on-site injuries. If the toilet and sanitation facilities at the farm are inadequate, the farmworkers may also see themselves dealing with urinary tract infections. Another crucial risk factor is that of bites from rodents, insects, and snakes found at the farms.
One of the main reasons why migrant farmworkers are unable to get the same kind of access to healthcare coverage as regular works is the lack of communication. There is a lot of lack of information regarding the migrant farmworkers’ eligibility requirements for healthcare coverage options. At times, the healthcare facilities are also inaccessible as a result of cultural and linguistic barriers. Most undocumented workers are also worried that their immigration status will affect their medical eligibility. At times, migrant workers are unable to get adequate medical leaves—further worsening the situation.
Migrant workers also tend to relocate very frequently. This is an added barrier to receiving continuous healthcare services. This further puts them at risk of developing preventable diseases. Constantly being on the run and staying away from the family also leads to mental health issues, social isolation, and separation anxiety.
If you’re a farm manager or an organization that recruits migrant workers under the H2A Visa program scheme, we can help you out! Farm Aid H-2A LLC is offering farm recruitment services for farm labor in Florida. To learn more about our H2A employment services, get in touch.