The purpose of this project is to assess health and care needs for farmworkers in Florida in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Florida agriculture is a $7.5 billion dollar industry; yet the state’s production as a whole has been hard hit by the pandemic in terms of lack of demand, supply chain issues, and labor shortages. Florida farmworkers are critical to this economy but are facing high levels of risk as part of their jobs. These risks include challenges with social distancing, job loss or uncertainty, and food insecurity. Moreover, we know that farmworkers as a population experience higher incidences of underlying conditions that may make them more vulnerable to the effects of the disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and they are less likely to receive long-term management from health care providers for these and other illnesses or occupational injuries.
Drawing from extant research on farmworker health and environmental justice, the consequences of COVID-19 are is likely to have significant impacts on this already vulnerable community of people in the context of health, job security and economics, unpaid care work, and occupational migration. In addition, with the advent of a successful vaccine, research is needed to assess potential barriers to farmworker access to and perceptions of medical interventions. For example, if individuals are required to have a state-issued ID to receive the vaccine – something that may pose significant issues for migrant workers in Florida. Therefore, this research is not only urgent to address farmworker women’s needs now, but also assessing needs in a global crisis will result in better resource and policy preparedness for future emergencies.
This research will generate outreach and organizational materials for farmworker outreach staff and personnel who are working to assist farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These materials will also inform future farmworker outreach efforts in other health crises by appropriately and adequately address the specific needs of farmworker populations in Florida.
In order to collect data for this study, we intend on conducting approximately 30 interviews with farmworker outreach professionals via phone call or Zoom. The collected data will be qualitatively analyzed and used to inform a needs assessment to better help the farmworker population. This needs assessment will be used to generate educational and other outreach materials for organizations working with farmworkers. The data will also be used to generate articles for publication in peer-reviewed, social science outlets, including The Journal of Undergraduate Research.