Structural Competency and Agricultural Health and Safety: An Opportunity to Foster Equity within Agriculture

Casper G. Bendixsen, Athena K. Ramos, Seth M. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The future of agricultural work in the United States (U.S.) must account for at least two important trends: 1) the persistence of the industry being riddled with high rates of injury and illness and 2) the growing proportion of hired farmworkers compared to family farmworkers working in these dangerous environments. These workers confront structural disadvantages that impede social justice and prosperity. Social structures like policies, economic systems, institutions, and social hierarchies create health disparities, often along the lines of social categories. The result is an already dangerous industry with vulnerable workers facing unjust risks, especially those that are undocumented. Agricultural health and safety professionals and other stakeholders should engage structural competency curricula in order to increase awareness of impact of structures and be better positioned to improve farmworker health and wellbeing. Similar work has been successful in the training healthcare professionals, e.g. the Structural Competency Working Group (SCWG). New strategies are needed to improve farmworker wellbeing and retain an adequate agricultural workforce. A greater understanding of the social and structural concerns that farmworkers face is an important step towards occupational and social justice. It is also clear that it will require collaboration and community-based efforts creating a larger team of people using similar concepts related to the structural influences on whether health and wellbeing are distributed equitably. This work is being moved forward in healthcare, social work, worker organizations, and community-based initiatives. Agricultural health and safety professionals have a vital contribution to make if they join the ranks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • equity
  • farmworkers
  • health disparities
  • Structural competency
  • training curriculum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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