Farming Is More Dangerous Than You Think
Farm Worker Safety
Agriculture is statistically one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S. Agricultural workers have a fatality rate 5 times higher than the average worker–not to mention increased risk of non-fatal injuries and ailments like heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, and chronic pain.
Chronic chemical exposure, air pollution, and mechanical hazards are some of the principal factors threatening the well-being of agricultural workers. These are particularly prevalent in concentrated animal feeding operations (or CAFOs) and food packaging facilities.
Fortunately, more and more operations are taking the health and well-being of their workers into account and providing better conditions and training to that end. Continue reading
Migrant Farm Workers Make Up Most of the Agriculture Industry
Migrant Farm Workers Are the Backbone of the Agricultural Industry
A large portion of the American farm worker population is made up of immigrants: some under the temporary worker program, some legal residents, and many undocumented. Migrant farm laborers face a special set of challenges in the U.S. workforce–especially refusal of employment rights.
Barriers to accessing these rights include language barriers, lack of education, unfamiliarity with the legal system, intimidation by employers, fear of job loss, and the possibility of being reported to immigration services in the case of undocumented immigrants. Addressing these systemic issues is a difficult task, but one that is not without its champions–many of whom identify with the sustainable agriculture movement. Continue reading
Sustainable Agriculture: Meeting Current Needs Without Sacrificing Future Needs
Sustainable Agriculture: Managing Natural and Human Resources
Agriculture requires the dedication of many of our natural resources, including land, water, and energy. When the quality and quantity of our natural resources degrades as a result of unsustainable practices, it’s not only the environment that suffers–the viability of future agricultural operations is also put at risk. Sustainable agriculture is founded on the premise that our resources can be carefully managed and cultivated to make them last indefinitely.
And it’s not just natural resources that proponents of sustainable agriculture are focused on; it’s also human resources. Treating workers equitably helps cultivate our social and economic vitality, which can be eroded as easily as environmental health by unfair labor practices–and at enormous cost to our society.
Of course, profitability is also essential to sustainability. Every industry has to make money to subsist. So how do we reconcile the bottom line with the need for ecologically and socially responsible practices? The following are the 5 most important elements of sustainable agriculture. Continue reading