Farmworker Health and Safety Program

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People learn together in a classroom.The Farmworker Health and Safety Program (Farmworker Program) is entering its 3rd year in Henderson County. The purpose of the Farmworker program is to provide health and safety education to farmworkers in our community. We conduct on the farm training on pesticide safety, including Worker Protection Standards (WPS), heat stress awareness, Covid and other health or safety issues that the farm requests. In 2023 the Henderson County Extension office conducted 12 on the farm training sessions for over 250 farmworkers.

For the first time in Western North Carolina two new professional workshops were offered in 2023. The first was the Spanish Pesticide Applicators School in May 2023 and that was followed by a Farm Labor Contractor Workshop in October 2023, also in Spanish.

For the Spanish Applicators School, we had representatives from, NC State Extension, the NC Department of Agriculture and from the University of Florida Extension. A total of 9 participants attended and it was held at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, NC.

The Farm Labor Contractor (FLC) workshop was held at the Henderson County Extension office. Ten FLC’s participated as well as 3 local organizations. The presenters were from NC State Extension, the NC Department of Agriculture, NC Department of Labor, NC Department of Commerce and NC Department of Labor (Wage and Hour Division).

The organizers of each of these events were pleased with the turnout and the content of both events, we would like to hold them again in 2024.

Another program that was started in 2023 was a food box delivery program. In partnership with Interfaith Assistance Ministries (IAM) we provided food boxes once a week to farms that utilize farmworkers. Together with IAM we delivered food boxes to 7 participating farms, approximately 100 farmworkers weekly. In 2024 we are preparing to deliver food boxes to even more farms that utilize H2A workers, seasonal and migrant farmworkers. 

This year we will include recipes and nutritional information in the food boxes as well as any other information that may be helpful to the farmworkers such as important emergency numbers and locations of local organizations that provide support to the farmworkers. 

In 2023 the Farmworker Program also held its second Farmworker Fair. Ten local organizations helped organize and participated in the event. This year it was held on a Sunday at Dana Park. Approximately 125 farmworkers and their families came and enjoyed great food, music, salsa dancing, and an impressive show by Danza Azteca Chichimeca. 

Other components of the Farmworker Program include being a part of the Latino community, providing education about our program at community events and to help increase the participation of the Latino community within other Extension programs.

The Farmworker Program is available to farms in our area that use farmworkers. 

Contact Farmworker Health & Safety Educator Area Agent, Chris Just, if you have any questions about this program. Phone number 828-284-4220. Email at cjust@ncsu.edu.