Rural Migrant Health

Migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs) and their families face unique health challenges due to their work environment, poverty status, inadequate housing, limited availability of clean water and septic systems, few transportation options, inadequate health care access, lack of insurance and cultural and language barriers, all together creating significant health disparities.

MSFW populations experience some of the nation’s most serious health problems including diabetes, malnutrition, infectious diseases, pesticide poisoning, and injuries from work related machinery. In 2011, HRSA-funded health centers served 862,808 MSFWs and their families. It is estimated that HRSA supported health center programs serve more than one quarter of all migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the United States.

Source: HRSA - The Health Center Program: Special Populations

Contacts

For information and resources about migrant and community health centers, and farmworker health programs contact your Regional Migrant Health Coordinator.

HRSA Regional Migrant Health Coordinators

There are more organizations related to Migrant Health in the organizations section.

Frequently Asked Questions


Who are migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW)?

An MSFW is either, a migrant farmworker, a seasonal farmworker, or a migrant food processing worker. According to the U.S. State Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration:

  • Migrant Farmworkers are seasonal farmworkers who travel to do farm work and are unable to return to their permanent residence within the same date;
  • Seasonal Farmworkers are persons who during the preceding 12 months worked at least an aggregate of 25 or more days or parts of days in which some work was performed in farm work, earned at least half of their earned income from farm work, and were not employed in farm work year round by the same employer;
  • Migrant Food Processing Workers are persons who during the preceding 12 months have worked at least an aggregate of 25 or more days or parts of days in which some work was performed in food processing, earned at least half of their earned income from processing work, and were not employed in food processing year round by the same employer, provided that the food processing required travel such that the workers were unable to return to their permanent residence in the same day.

Are there health centers that just focus on the migrant and seasonal farmworker population?

In 2012, HRSA-funded Migrant Health Centers served over 900,000 agricultural workers and their families. It is estimated that HRSA-funded health center programs serve approximately one-third of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers in the United States. The Migrant Health Center program provides support to health centers to deliver comprehensive, high quality, culturally-competent preventive and primary health services to migratory and seasonal agricultural workers and their families with a particular focus on the occupational health and safety needs of this population.


What are some of the barriers to accessing health care for migrant and seasonal farmworkers?

Most farmworkers do not have access to regular, affordable health care. Farmworkers rarely have coverage through their employers or public programs, and they do not earn enough money to pay for health insurance. Farmworkers typically cannot afford to take time off from work or to risk losing their jobs to seek medical care. Transportation problems, language and cultural differences and limited clinic hours also create barriers. As a result, most farmworkers tend to postpone care until a health condition becomes unbearable or interferes with work.