The Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, serving Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, is one of 12 centers selected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to receive funding for a five-year cycle beginning on October 1. The announcement marks the third consecutive cycle that UMASH has been successful in its competitive funding offer.
“NIOSH Agriculture Centers work collaboratively on national efforts and events,” says Jennifer Lincoln, NIOSH associate director for the Office of Agricultural Safety and Health. “At the same time, each center specializes in the various agricultural, forestry and fishing industries and the health and safety needs of workers in their region.”
“The overall goal of our center is to improve the health and safety of homeowners, growers and agricultural workers relevant to the Upper Midwest, the country and the world,” says UMASH Director Jeff Bender, DVM. “The central theme of UMASH is to promote a One Health approach that emphasizes the interconnections between human, animal and plant health and the health of the environment to address the changing health and safety conditions of the people who feed us all.”
UMASH is a collaboration of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine, the Marshfield Clinical Research Institute National Center for Agricultural Medicine, the Migrant Clinicians Network, and the Department of Health from Minnesota. UMASH uses its unique multidisciplinary expertise to focus on agricultural worker health and safety issues, especially those related to agricultural animal production.
During the next funding cycle, UMASH will continue to expand its network, craft impactful prevention messages, translate evidence into programming and resources, and address emerging and re-emerging issues, all to support the health and safety of farming communities in the Upper Middle West. In addition, UMASH researchers will work to understand and improve factors related to agricultural safety and health, including:
- Identify individual and contextual determinants underpinning farmers’ help-seeking behaviors and their role in shaping mental health outcomes (Florence Becot, PI)
- Rural Firefighters Providing Agricultural Safety and Health (RF-DASH): Next Steps (Casper Bendixsen, PI)
- The influence of on-farm exposures and biosecurity practices on the skin and nasal microbiomes of US swine workers (Noelle Noyes, PI)
- Factors Influencing Transmission of Airborne Viruses and Bacteria in Animal Agriculture (Peter Raynor, PI)
“To address some complex challenges in agricultural health and safety, we’ve assembled a diverse team of experts,” says Megan Schossow, UMASH outreach director and center coordinator. “We have people from sociology, veterinary medicine, anthropology, environmental health, agronomy, public health, education, and more. By learning from each other and working closely with our agricultural community, we believe we will continue to positively impact this critical workforce.”
Despite the steady decline in fatalities in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sector over the past 30 years, in 2020, AgFF workers experienced the highest fatal injury rate at 21.5 fatalities per 100 000 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers for all US industries.
The NIOSH Ag Centers were established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/NIOSH in 1990 through a cooperative agreement to conduct research, education, and prevention projects to address the nation’s pressing AgFF health and safety problems. The newly funded UMASH Center will advance critical work to improve the health of this critical workforce.
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