On the thanks-giving day in nineteen sixty, the issue of seasonal farm worker was brough to the attention of the nation. Famous journalist of the United States R.Murrow’s documentary has depicted the accurate picture of the plight of the worker working on the farms. The miserable condition of these people associated with the migrant work on agriculture was unfolded in the dinner of thanksgiving were in families came across the country. A short look at the history reveals that around forty years later MSFWs member of the American community remains impoverished and one of the under served people in the country. The rates of the mortality and morbidity in these people were more significant than the whole of US community. They were deprived of industrial facilities, prosperity, standard living style, and language and cultural endorsement.
It is difficult to estimate the numbers of these labor workforce because of their economic and social marginalization. However, current calculations unfolded that around 2.5 million labors are working in the agriculture industry. According to the survey of the US Department of Labor’s national workers, approximately 1.4 million of these labors belongs to the class of MSFWs. Studies also confirm that three to five million MSFWs and people who are dependent on them (children’s, wives and related family members) are residing in the United States. Seasonal Farm worker is been defined as “a person whose basic service is in agriculture sector on the seasonal basis and who is in the job from the last twenty-four months.” Similarly, a migrant agricultural employer comes under the same definition, but it establishes temporary employment for the common purpose like that of other farm workers (Hansen,2003). Majority of the MSFWs are regular migrants who move from their home to their particular place for agricultural services. While other remaining workers follow crop for their profession. They move from their place to other like Midwestern states and Texas and in predetermine migratory streams along with Atlantic seaboard.
Regarding the information of subgroups of these migrants, farm workers evidence show that there is the quite significant difference between hired farm laborer and family farmers. Appointed member of the crop is primarily members consisted of the eighty percent of males with the median age of twenty-nine. Half of these members are married, and most of the couples migrated and worked together. Forty-five percent have their children along with eighty-one percent are those families with their children are born in foreign states. Among these ninety-five percent of the workers are from Mexico, two percent from Central America and one percent from the Asian region. Eighty-four percent of the worker is having the Spanish language followed by twelve percent English speakers. Remaining all workers speak Creole, Tagalog, and Mixtec. Ordinary attainment of an educational level of these people is 6th grade.
In the native language, only twenty percent are illiterate while thirty-eight percent are functionally literate. Twenty-seven percent of these people are marginally literate. US Department of agriculture’s Institute, US agriculture Industry has disclosed that net income on farms was 45.5 billion dollar annually during the year of nineteen ninety. The agricultural, industrial workers produced Eighty-five percent of the fruit and vegetables. Less than one-half of the all individual farm workers earn seventy-five hundred dollars per year. The family receiving ratio of these farm workers is also same in numbers. The Department of labor restricted those employers that were providing labor camps to these MSFWs for enforcing the standard of the housing. Majority of the labor was unable to pay for standard camps construction and maintenance. The private house was expensive and not suitable for these labors of the agriculture sector. With the rare facilities in the camps, pesticide-polluted clothing clean in the same sink, where food is prepared. Children also bathed in the similar tub. Housing camps location was too near to the fields that are pesticide-treated which result in direct pesticide spray. Other than well-managed camps, a large number of tents were overcrowded with poor ventilation inadequate plumbing system. In this environment and facilities provided to the labor class diseases like tuberculosis and infections spreads easily. Some fortunate MSFWs have no access to the housing; they sleep in tents, vans, car, and ditches and even in open fields. For public of government, it is not to find migrant camps especially when are privately owned. Labor class also faced the difficulties in their professional services.
Farm labor is seasonal and intensive of work. They work along with migrant workers in the rain, heat intense bright sun and all kinds of weather conditions. Overburden work with the exploitation of force used in the heavy machinery causes chronic musculature problems and symptoms. In the case of tobacco farmers, direct contact with the plants causes green tobacco sickness and allergic rashes (Meister, 1991). In the US, the most hazardous occupation is agriculture. One-lac thirty thousand injuries and seven hundred eighty death were reported in the year of two thousand. The actual rate of occupational injuries in the agriculture sector is much higher than that of said ratios. Due to the limited health facilities underreporting is essential. In compliance with the regulations of OSHA, poor facilities are there, and seventy percent sanitation violation was reported during field inspection. Ninety-five percent of the farms are exempted from OSHA rules and regulations. Labors drink water, which is contaminated with pesticides and human organic waste.
Regardless of the issues and problems of health faced by the general population, these labors have unique health problems, which are not confronted by the public. Due to poverty, migrant, substandard living language and cultural barriers they have increased the number of health hazards. Average life expectancy is forty-nine percent compared with the national life expectancy, which is seventy-five percent. Various are the categories of disease face by these MFSWs are discussed below.
Migrants worker are at increased risk of contracting with fungal, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. These people have more six times tuberculosis than the general population. There is forty-four percent of migrant facing positive purifies the protein of derivative tuberculin skin test. Parasitic infections are also high than the prevalence in general people. The untreated parasitic condition could lead to malnutrition (Goldsmith, 1989). High incidence of sexually transmitted diseases also found in migrant’s camps. Girls feeling isolation in the fields have less recreational facilities. HIV seroprevalence rate is three to thirteen percent compared to two percent among the general public. Regular visits of boyfriends and those husbands visiting prostitutes provide the high risk of HIV among migrant women. Urinary tract infections are also high in the camps of migrants due to absence of toilets and strict working conditions in the fields. Chronic urinary retention enhances bacterial growth and weakens the bladder wall, which in turns promotes the chronic infections.
Workers that are related to the work of agriculture have the higher rate of the skin disorders, which are not available in other industries. In this regard, dermatitis is considered as the most common disease among MSFWs. Exposure to the pesticides, fertilizers, allergenic crops and other chemicals lead to the skin problem. Lack of protective clothing, sun heat, chapped, the absence of the hand washing facilities all created health problems. Occupational dermatitis occurs on hands worker may also decrease work capability. Organic and inorganic dust also contribute to building diseases for the migrants (Arcury, 2007). These include fuels, solvents, and welding fumes. The result of these elements develops a risk of allergies, asthma, hypersensitivity and pulmonary edema (Magaña, 2008). The worker of the agriculture sector have also the problem of reproductive health. They have prolonged standing, bending, dehydration; chemical exposure leads to the increased risk for abortion. Growth retardation, premature birth, abnormal postnatal development are all the issues related to the health of migrant agriculture workers. The infant mortality rate is estimated twice of the average of the nations. One miscarriage or the stillbirth women are there in the migrants as research conducted by the California state.
Restricting children’s from work the US government has set the age limit as sixteen for the children working in industries and twelve for those who are working in the agriculture sector. However, children are most vulnerable to posing that is pesticide and possess respiratory and communicable diseases. In fact, children are more affected by pesticides than that of adults. During the time of developing stage of the child changes also occurred in the enzymes that can enhance the toxicity of the chemicals operating in the environment. The number of the children’s have below average height because they face more respiratory parasitic, infections in the skin, deficiencies in vitamins and problem related to dental health. Regular moves from place to place, homelessness, frequent moves, poverty and interruptions in friendships and schooling poorly effected to the children’s life both psychologically and physically.
Migrant labor face variety of stress levels including poverty, uncertainty in their job, isolation in society and geographically. The poor condition of their house, extreme pressure of time, separation from their family, generational conflicts and issues, lack of recreations, health, and concerns related to the safety and security of their life (Farmer,1992). They also have the problems like stress, violence at domestic level, and psychiatric illness. Mistreatment of their children also has the profound impact on their personality and effect psychology of their children (Mirabelli, 2010). The mental disorders are more frequently appears in the families of these migrants, due to the non-availability of strong social support, family ties, and language group identity. Over the passage of time, those healthy migrants coming from other states became the weak and psychological illness.
Health barriers are frequent for the people working the agriculture industry. Those people working as labor lack the access to the medical care, insurance, sick leave, and all those medical facilities that are usually given to the people across the United States. Illiteracy further aggravated the situation wherein understanding of communication issues occurred among migrants and the medical staff. Treatment for these migrants also sought for the acute problem than the chronic condition or the preventive services are mostly due, in part to this illiteracy. That is why migrant works have to increase hospitalization ratios and mortality rates than that of conventional people of the American society. The prevalence of the severe disease like anemia, obesity, and hypertension is high. Those chronic diseases that require serious monitoring such as HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis and particular problems to the MSFWs often lack regular contact or long relationship with the care provider.
The system for migrant health consisted of around four hundred sites hardly approached by ten to fifteen patients. This shows the attention and care provided by the federal states to these poor people of the American community. Many migrants were qualifying for the assistant program, but few of them get the actual benefits (Anthony 2008). The migrant worker is mostly disqualified as they do not meet the forty-five days criteria for residency requirements. Fear of the immigration penalties and the lack of eligibility knowledge also hinder their enrollment. Most of the employees do not report wages as MSFWs they mostly fail to prove social security claims, workers compensations, and occupational rehabilitation and disability benefits from their organization. The migrant worker is also facing a variety of carcinogens including pesticides, fumes, ultraviolet radiations, sun exposure, biological agents such as animal and human viruses. The laborers at the farm have increased rate of mortality like stomach cancer including lip and skin. Recent research concluded that members of the united farm workers of America have developed increase diseases of leukemia, cervix cancer, that that of those California Hispanic population. The exposure of the children towards pesticides seems to reveal that high risk of the development of disease than adults. Farmworkers have decreased the mortality rates from cancer of bladder and lungs, which might be due to the lesser prevalence of smoking. Very little research has focused on the hired farmworkers, so that data must cautiously be interpreted. The challenges for the methodological studies include the difficulty of follow up due to the migrancy, estimated exposure complexities, and correction in occupational codes on the certificates of death.
To be brief, it is worth mentioning that migrants contributing an important role in the progress of the economy of United States of America. However, they establish a deprecate and unfair population with numerous health and social care needs. The problems like the hindrance in industrial facilities, poverty, language and cultural barriers contribute to MSFWs and create obstacles and barriers to the health care. The provocation for the policy makers, socially conscious American is to provide a healthy public health infrastructure. They also have to collect, systematize and organize the data related to this unfortunate class of the society. Reformations in educational sector can also pave the way for the progress of MSFWs. Increasing awareness regarding the plight of farmworkers would also increase the development of the entire community. Last but not the least, those people who harvest our fields must deserve better than they are getting now.
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