Last week, the CDC retracted its 2016 report on suicide rates by occupational group because it “misclassified farming, fishing and forestry workers.” The numbers were skewed to show that farmers committed suicide more than any other occupational group. The media made the conclusion that there was a “farmer suicide crisis” – and got it all wrong. But it made great headlines just as the politicians were hashing out the 2018 the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill includes funding to help farmers and ranchers with emotional and mental problems.
But the largest population at risk is the farm workers. These are the 80-90% of the people who harvest our food and make up the bulk of the farming industry. And the CDC has no way to find out the true suicide rate in farm workers because their work is seasonal. In addition, women farm workers struggle with rape, sexual abuse, and fear every day. Their stories don’t make the headlines. Many workers fear the loss of their family’s income if they complain or file a police report.
Full protection under the law is not a reality for migrant workers. Abuse of farm workers is an epidemic on farms across America – a discussion I’ll save for another blog. This week’s blog is about our global agriculture workforce. Continue reading “1.1 Billion: Global Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers”