Illinois Migrant Council | Serving Illinois Farmworkers

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Illinois Farmworkers

About Illinois Farmwork

Illinois' vegetable, dairy and sod farms, fruit orchards and nurseries employ 20,800 farmworkers seasonally.
Illinois' agricultural industry hires farmworkers for planting, harvesting, hoeing, detasseling, weeding, sowing, cultivating, bunching, picking, thinning, packing, loading and transporting.
Illinois' crops include apples, asparagus, bell peppers, beans, berries, cabbage, chives, corn, horseradish, lettuce, melons, onions, peaches, pumpkins, soybeans, spinach, squash, tomatoes, squash and much more.
Twenty-first century transformations in the agricultural industry have changed Illinois’ farm labor market, e.g., new technology, expansion of towns into former farm land, diverse crop schedules.

About Illinois Farmworker Families

Low Income
Inadequate family resources to cover basic necessities or emergencies
Any loss of wages threatens family’s socio-economic stability
Average earned wages for family of four is $10,000/below federal poverty guideline
Unemployment, Underemployment
Job insecurity
No coverage of unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation
Occupational hazards
Changing farm labor demand
Lack of marketable job skills for twenty-first century economy
Lack of Education
Average education level for adults below eighth grade
Low literacy levels
Substandard Housing
Crowded migrant housing
Poor sanitation and plumbing, exposures to waste and sewage
Illinois migrant labor camp code for housing unit inspections applies only to sites with four or more families or ten or more workers
Constant threat of homelessness
Unaffordable rents
Lack of information about fair housing and tenant rights
Discrimination toward farmworkers who are U.S. citizens and documented aliens as immigration fears have grown
Limited English language skills for communicating with local communities

Obstacles to School Success for Migrant Children and Youth

Frequent mobility during upstream migration during school terms
Disruptions in school attendance when it’s essential for economic survival to work alongside family members
Significant differences in state and local standards and requirements
Limited English language skills at home
Difficulty of serious academic study after a long day of manual labor
Lack of access to technology exacerbates the digital divide
Gaps in educational skills and concepts that impact standards-based assessments tied directly to high school graduation
No support or preparation for post-secondary education
No career exploration for entry into the twenty-first century workforce

Health Disparities Among Farmworkers and Latinos in Rural Illinois

Health disparities arising from
Language barriers
Cultural differences
Itinerant lifestyle
Lack of income
Lack of information/knowledge
Impact of health disparities
Inadequate health and nutrition by national standards
Anemia and vitamin deficiencies
Higher incidence of chronic disease (diabetes, cardiovascular)
Pandemic influenza and upper respiratory infections (tuberculosis, asthma)
Environmentally-related illness
Gastro-intestinal problems
High risk for HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, STDs
Lower life expectancy
Lack of access to the health services delivery system
Lack of access to health education and screening resources
     Screening for breast, cervical and prostate cancer
     Diabetes prevention and management
     Tobacco cessation techniques
Occupational risks for migrant and seasonal farmworkers
Exposure to harmful pesticides
Heat exhaustion and collapse
Higher incidence of chronic disease (diabetes, cardiovascular)
Safety hazards
Basic worker needs for shade, water, sanitation, work breaks and safety standards – especially during hot summer months
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