State Health Department Announces $789,600 - a nearly $100,000 increase - in Funding for Migrant Seasonal Farmworker Health Program

Program Provides Care for up to 12,000 Migrants and Families

Albany, March 6, 2002 – New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today announced State awards totaling $789,600 to provide health care and social services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families across New York State, an increase in funding of $98,000 over last year.

"The migrant farmworker is an indispensable part of New York's agriculture industry and it's imperative that these workers and their families be afforded quality health care," Governor Pataki said. "Each year, migrant farmworkers come to New York to perform skilled tasks that can only be done by human hands, preparing for market many of the fruits and vegetables grown in the State."

The Governor said that with the additional funding and increase in the number of providers, from 14 to 16, more than 12,000 individuals will be served in the coming year. Annually, this initiative provides migrants and seasonal farmworkers with a broad range of health and social support services, including screening, diagnosis and referral for specific conditions and medical and dental services. Enabling services are also provided which address barriers to health care access, such as camp outreach, translation, transportation and convenient hours, are also supported. In addition, the program provides preventive and primary health services specifically targeted to the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers.

"This is yet another example of the Governor ensuring that those with a tremendous need for health care will be adequately covered," Dr. Novello said. "Migrants and seasonal farmworkers are often at increased risk of injury on the job. Their health and well being will be strengthened by having access to the best health care system in the nation."

During the growing season, migrant farmworkers often work long hours and are not compensated when they are away from the fields. When income is dependent on the number of hours worked each day, the migrant farm worker may need to make a choice between seeking medical care or being paid. Medical conditions often reach serious levels before attention is sought. Diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, alcoholism and diabetes are common. The strenuous nature of the work predisposes the migrant farmworker to occupational injuries.

Farm work is ranked as the third most hazardous occupation in the nation behind mining and construction. Common occupational health concerns for farmworkers are associated with an increased risk for musculoskeletal trauma and degenerative disorders. Dermatitis and respiratory problems caused by natural fungi, dust and pesticides are common.

Child labor restrictions do allow children age 12 to do farm work. When children work in the fields, occupational injury presents an even more significant risk than for adults because of their lack of experience. Even when children do not work, because childcare is limited, many farmworker children are present in or near the fields and thus may be exposed to pesticides on plants and in the dirt.

Most of the funding comes from the Preventive Health Services Block Grant, $550,000, with the remainder provided by the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant.

The grant applicants and their recommend funding amounts include:

Western New York Award
BOCES Geneseo $ 35,000
Oak Orchard Health Center $ 50,000
Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital $ 45,000
Wayne County Health Department $ 75,000
Chautauqua Opportunities $ 35,000
Orleans County Health Department $ 35,000
Central New York  
Cayuga County Health Department $ 35,000
Oswego County Health Department $ 65,000
Onondaga County Health Department $ 35,000
Hudson Valley  
Hudson River H.C. Peekskill $ 90,000
Orange County Health Department $ 50,000
Putnam County Health Department $ 27,000
Columbia County Health Department $ 35,000
Suffolk County  
Suffolk County Health Department $ 60,000
Western/Central New York  
Finger Lakes Migrant Health $ 87,600
Agri–Business Child Development $ 30,000
Total $789,600

3/6/02–25 OPA