Agriculture groups push to double funding for farm worker safety

Published: Mar. 12, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Several agricultural groups want double funding for farm worker safety in this year’s state budget.

The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health, also known as NYCAMH, is asking for an additional $1 million to be included in its annual allocation.

The organization focuses on health and safety needs of farms across the state. It provides an occupational health network including medical services and bilingual safety programs.

Officials with the Jefferson County Farm Bureau says these services are crucial.

“We as farmers may not have all the expertise to do to the best of our ability, but NYCAMH offers those services and helps us give back,” said Jefferson Country Farm Bureau Board Director Devon Shelmidine.

For more than 14 years, NYCAMH got a flat rate for state funding.

NYCAMH Deputy Director Erika Scott says with inflation it’s time for that to change, because if it doesn’t, it could cost cuts in some programs.

“It’s really painful to not be able to provide the services that we know we can and be helpful doing so,” said Scott.

Scott says NYCAMH has not received any inflationary adjustments, and with travel expenses and medical equipment costs this high, making it to in person trainings is challenging.

And the repercussions of this?

“The dangers are real and serious, and what we found is that the most productive safety trainings are in person, on farm and applicable to what we’re doing,” said Marriane Robinson of NYCAMH.

The state budget is due in early April.