A new study will aid in the counting of farmworkers in Arizona

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A new study funded by the Arizona Department of Health Services will aid in the counting of farmworkers in Arizona. They are one of the most vulnerable populations in the state.

Joining us from University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health is principal investigator Kate Ellingson and lead researcher, Priscila Ruedas.

The study was conducted by researchers at Zuckerman College of Public Health. It will produce current and credible counts of farmworkers and their household members in Arizona to provide organizations and agencies with data to meet the needs of this vital yet vulnerable community.

“During the pandemic, we really saw sort of the importance of understanding who’s here and when they’re here,” Ellingson said.

Farmworkers are vital to Arizona’s economy and feeding our nation. They harvest crops, tend livestock, and work in food processing and packaging plants.

However, the last systematic count of farmworkers was in 2008, the reason behind this? Lack of funding.

The funding came through the Arizona Department of Health Services but it was actually COVID-19 disparities funding.

“it’s long overdue. We’ve been needing to do this for a longtime. so, this money was an opportunity for us to do it because the needs were so great during COVID and it was very clear that our numbers were old,” Ellingson said.

It is vital to serve our unseen workers. Knowing where and during what seasons they work will help improve conditions for Arizona farmworkers.

“They have more limited resources so they have higher rates of diabetes, they also have exposure rates of pesticides, and we also want to talk about the heat related illnesses that farmworkers face,” Ruedas said.

The project is a collaborative effort between researchers, academics, government, and community service organizations.

“Farm workers are our friends and our neighbors and farmworkers are the people who in the food supply chain, are critical to getting us our food on everyday basis,” Ruedas said.

Kate Ellingson, Ph. D., Associate Professor at University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health; Priscila Ruedas, MPH, lead researcher for AZ-FEPS and community outreach specialist at U of A's Zuckerman College of Public Health

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