New York Farm Bureau Joins Ag Groups Calling for Action Now to Ensure NYCAMH Safety Programs Remain on Farms
The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health is facing serious cuts in farm safety programming and trainings if state budget funding does not increase after more than a decade of stagnation.
A coalition of major agricultural groups in New York are asking state lawmakers to double critically needed funding for the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH). It is a national leader in bilingual farm safety programming that protects farmworkers and farmers from serious injury or death. However, NYCAMH has reached a critical juncture after receiving flat funding from New York State for more than 14 years.
New York State enacted legislation officially establishing NYCAMH in 1988 to reduce the unacceptably high rates of workplace death, serious injury, and illness among New York State’s agricultural workers by providing high-quality occupational medical services, technical assistance, comprehensive occupational health and safety training programs, and evidence-based solutions throughout the state.
NYCAMH has successfully reduced the number of agricultural workplace deaths, serious injury and occupational illness. However, it needs a significant increase in state investment to maintain its essential work. NYCAMH has not received any inflationary adjustments to its annual $1 million in state funding in more than 14 years, despite dramatic increases in wages, travel expenses and medical equipment costs.
NYCAMH lacks adequate funding to provide its vital agricultural programs and services at current levels unless it receives an additional $1 million in state funding in FY 2023-2024 New York State Budget.
“We will be forced to cut many of those essential programs and services in 2023 and beyond. This, we believe, would quickly cause a significant – but otherwise fully preventable -- increase in the rates of workplace death, serious injury and illness among New York State’s agricultural workers,” said Erika Scott, PhD, NYCAMH Deputy Director.
The agricultural coalition supporting NYCAMH’s request through a joint letter to lawmakers includes New York Farm Bureau, Northeast Dairy Producers Association, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Empire State Forest Products Association, Long Island Oyster Growers, New York Beef Producers’ Association, New York State Berry Growers Association, and New York State Horticultural Society.
"My farm and employees depend on NYCAMH every year to conduct bilingual safety training in areas of first aid, animal handling, tractor safety, and chemical use. Their expertise is second to none, and I am concerned about what would happen if these valuable resources were not as widely available to farms like mine across the state. New York Farm Bureau supports a budget increase for NYCAMH after years of flat funding. We cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our most important resource, our people," said Kim Skellie, a New York Farm Bureau State Director and dairy farmer in Newark, NY.
“A healthy farm workforce is essential to New York State’s food security, and the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health plays a critical role in our food supply chain by providing bilingual programming and resources to ensure the safety and health of our farmworkers,” said Northeast Dairy Producers Association Chair Keith Kimball. “NYCAMH's funding has remained static for 14 years, yet the demand for safety training and the cost of medical and safety supplies, labor, transportation, and other expenses have continued to rise. An additional $1 million is needed to expand services, retain trained NYCAMH experts, and provide resources to more farmworkers. Investing in NYCAMH benefits workers and their families, our family farms, and is vital in our efforts to provide nutritious, local foods to New York families.”
Click here to view/download a Zoom press call about the budget request.
Click here to learn more about the diversity of NYCAMH’s safety services.
Click here for NYCAMH provided training video.