America’s farmers and farmworkers feed and fuel the nation. These essential workers play an important role in our nation’s food security and economy. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported around 2 million full-time production-agriculture workers.
At USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), we recognize the importance of farmworkers in the U.S. agriculture industry.
While majority of disabling injuries and illness are nonwork related, disabling farming-related injuries happen often as agriculture ranks among the most hazardous of industries, according to the CDC. The NIFA-funded AgrAbility program received its first federal funding in 1991 and was implemented as recommended in the USDA 1990 Farm Bill. AgrAbility strives to enhance the quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with disabilities so that they, their families and their communities continue to succeed in rural America.
According to the CDC, farmers are among the most likely to die by suicide when compared to other occupations. In 2021, NIFA invested nearly $25 million for 50 grants in the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network program. These funded projects initiate, expand or sustain programs that provide professional agricultural behavioral health counseling and referral for other forms of assistance as necessary through farm telephone helplines and websites, training programs and workshops, support groups, and outreach services and activities.
Beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance and outreach needs. NIFA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) ensures there will be a new generation of beginning farmers and ranchers — regardless of age or production choice. During Fiscal Year 2021, NIFA awarded over $50 million for 85 newly funded grants and 55 continuation BFRDP projects.
At NIFA, we are proud to invest in and support America’s farmers, ranchers and workers, and we value their vital role in providing for the essential nutritional needs of our communities nationwide.