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Lack Of Protection For Migrants Puts Food System At Risk

A new report from Johns Hopkins University says a lack of rights for undocumented farm workers threatens public health and the food system.

Workers pick sweet potatoes

Photo: Lance Cheung (USDA)

A new report cites “fear of deportation” as a reason some undocumented farm workers may hide from the workplace, which adds instability to the food system.

A new report from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future says a lack of legal rights for migrant workers leads to increased risks for food safety.

The report, “Public Health, Immigration Reform And Food System Change,” calls for immigration reform that would give legal status to undocumented workers so they can organize, get access to health care, and fight for better conditions.

The report estimates that up to 70 percent of farm workers in the U.S. lack citizenship and work authorization.

The authors concluded that “security and resiliency of the U.S. food system is jeopardized by the health impacts facing immigrant workers.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation has called for immigration reforms to prevent worker shortages that can crush the agriculture sector and increase food prices.

Worker shortages cost American farms more than $300 million in 2010.

Farm workers have a high risk of injuries, exposure to harmful chemicals and other hazards that they are reluctant to report for fear of deportation.

The Johns Hopkins report also calls for provisions for whistleblowers, raising minimum wage, providing a path to citizenship, and allowing visa holders to switch employers.

Read More:

  • Public Health, Immigration Reform And Food System Change (Johns Hopkins Study)
  • Immigration Reform May be the Key to Saving America’s Farms (Food and Wine)
  • Study: Undocumented Farm Workers Put Food System At Risk (USA Today)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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