1. Trends & External Forces

The Hazardous Nature Of Farm Work As Climate Change Creates Extreme Conditions

The New York Times over the weekend had a story about how the “drought, megafires and heat waves” that have been “descending on the Pacific Northwest as the effects of climate change alter the landscape” have “forced farm owners, fieldworkers and state regulators to navigate newly extreme conditions.”

Nobody, the story suggests, has felt the impact of those extreme conditions as much as farm. workers.

According to the Times, “Policymakers in Oregon and Washington have recently established safety regulations to protect workers … The rules, which took effect Aug. 9, require employers to provide access to shade and cool drinking water in farms and other outdoor places when temperatures reach 80 degrees, with additional requirements to offer more breaks and periodic wellness checks when it reaches 90 degrees.

“The rules also require employers that provide temporary housing to field workers, like those with H-2A agricultural visas, to keep rooms at 78 degrees or below. Washington State this year created similar emergency rules to manage extreme weather patterns, joining Minnesota and California, which have also imposed heat safety regulations that apply to farms in recent years.”

But, the Times suggests, “the response can often feel improvised, and at times inadequate.”

You can read the story here.

KC’s View:
One of the interesting notes in the story is about how climate change almost inevitably will create a shift in where things are grown – longtime agricultural communities no longer may be viable, and entire industries may have to move.

The implications are almost too many to number.

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