Farmer perceptions of climate, adaptation, and management of farmworker risk in California
Keywords:Agriculture, Climate Change, Farmworker Health, Extreme Weather
Adaptation across systems in agriculture is essential for sustainability under ongoing climate change. Farmers and agricultural employers implement changes in their work (e.g., mechanization, changing crops, managing workspaces) in ways that may directly impact worker health. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with farmers and farm labor contractors in three agriculturally productive regions of California. We investigated (1) how farmers view changing climate in terms of worker safety and health; (2) how they are currently adapting to long-term weather patterns; (3) how their choices of management practices might impact their workers; (4) how they view their responsibility for their workers; and (5) what their overall observations are concerning environmental changes. Many employers made a clear distinction between weather and climate but not all agreed on whether they were experiencing climate change. Heat was notably the biggest climate hazard farmers identified. Most of the employers interviewed were proud of their longevity and ability to adapt to changing conditions in the field; however, they did not have established emergency procedures. Despite regulations that put the onus on employers, most participants believed that workers needed to take individual responsibility to keep themselves safe in the workplace. This research is one step in an ongoing research process designed to address the impacts of health and safety for agricultural workers in the context of climate change.
 We use the term “agricultural system” to refer to any system that produces livestock and crops, including the social, political, and economic components of that system.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Gail Wadsworth, Heather E. Riden, Kent E. Pinkerton
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