This year National Health Center Week and Agricultural Worker Health Day fall on the 60th Anniversary year of the passage of the Migrant Health Act, the landmark legislation that sowed the seeds for what would later become the Community Health Center program. The National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH) is celebrating this anniversary by looking back at the history of the Migrant Health movement, what we are currently doing to increase access to quality healthcare for Agricultural workers and their families, and how we will continue to keep the Migrant Health movement alive and moving forward.
The history of America’s Agricultural workers and the Migrant Health Movement is almost as old as the country itself. Ag workers have always lived in the shadows of communities, living, and working under unsafe conditions with poor access to education, welfare, and health care. The Migrant Health Movement and passage of the Migrant Health Act resulted in incredible strides forward and increased access to health care for Ag workers and their families. Resources like the 1992 Keep Hope Alive Video, 1960: “Harvest of Shame” documentary and NCFH’s historical photo slideshow are great for diving deeper into the history of Ag workers in our country and the Migrant Health Program.
In 2015, Ag worker advocates realized that the number of Ag workers and their families receiving care in health centers was decreasing and it was felt more could be done to increase access to care for ag workers and their families. Only 20% of Ag worker families were receiving care in the health center setting. The result was the Ag Worker Access Campaign launched as a joint effort by NCFH and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). The Campaign goal is to increase the number of Agricultural workers and their families served in health centers to 2 million. For more information about the Ag Worker Access Campaign, visit: http://www.ncfh.org/ag-worker-access.html
In 2019, over 1 million Ag workers and their families were served in health centers, passing the halfway milestone of the Campaign goal. In 2020 we saw a decrease in the numbers likely due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the early stages of the pandemic, Ag workers were recognized as essential workers. This shed light on their important role in our society’s functioning. At present we want to keep this acknowledgment alive and growing.
The Campaign is led by a task force comprised of representatives of health centers, primary care associations, health center-controlled networks, National Training and Technical Assistance Partners (NTTAPs), and other organizations representing education, housing, and labor. The Task Force guides the Campaign activities to increase access to care for Ag workers by identifying challenges, formulating recommendations, supporting collaboration and coalition building, and identifying and disseminating promising practices. The Task Force also works to identify Migrant Health Champions because stories of our work and interactions with Ag workers and their families help people to understand who they are as individuals and to remember the vast contributions that they make to our nation’s health and economy.
“Being exposed to farm labor my entire life, I felt like I needed to give back to my community and work with the migratory Ag worker population. These people really need good healthcare, and it provides a lot of professional satisfaction to me being able to service this type of population that I have a close connection to.” – Christina Rodriguez, Physician Assistant Altura Centers for Health (CA), child of Ag worker parents
Many health center staff that work with the Ag worker population have a strong connection to their work through family, friends, or even as former Agricultural workers themselves. It is so important to honor, recognize, and capture the stories of Migrant Health Champions. In June, the Ag Worker Access Campaign Task Force hosted a webinar that not only shared some of the history and legislation leading to the Migrant Health Program but also shared Stories from the Field, from two Migrant Health Champions that work in health centers. You can view the recorded webinar, here to listen to their stories.
We encourage you to share your story! Click here to share your story.
As you celebrate National Health Center Week and Agricultural Worker Health Day, we encourage you to promote the Ag Worker Access Campaign and the 60th Anniversary of the Migrant Health Program. On the Ag Worker Access Campaign webpage we have tools and resources to support your efforts such as social media collateral, a web button for your website, the 60th Anniversary of the Migrant Health Program badge, and staff training resources on the history of the Migrant Health Program. Additionally, if you promote the Ag Worker Access Campaign on Ag Worker Health Day (8/9) and tag NCFH on your social media, @NCFHTX on Facebook/Twitter and @farmworkerhealth on Instagram AND use these hashtags #AgWorkerAccess #MigrantHealth60 #NHCW22 #ValueCHCs, NCFH will send you a poster from NCFH’s commemorative artwork series!
Sign up to join the Campaign and become a part of this important initiative supporting the future of America’s Agricultural workers and their families. As a Campaign member, you will receive resources and opportunities to learn about Ag workers and strategies for increasing access to quality care. With your help, we can reach 2 million Ag workers and their families and beyond!
For more information about the Ag Worker Access Campaign, visit: http://www.ncfh.org/ag-worker-access.html
For more information about the National Center for Farmworker Health, visit: http://www.ncfh.org/