Health and dignity for Michigan farmworkers

Seasonal and migrant farmworkers play a crucial role in powering Michigan’s nearly $105 billion food and agriculture industry. Despite their vital contribution, there are limited occupational protections for this essential workforce. In this episode, two researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health outline the health and safety challenges faced by farmworkers in the state of Michigan.

Epidemiologists Alexis Handal and Lisbeth Iglesias-Rios describe findings from the Michigan Farmworker Project, their ongoing study on the precarious employment and labor conditions of farmworkers. They share the struggles, exploitation, and health risks these workers endure, and underscore the vital need for data-driven solutions. The researchers discuss how documenting the experiences of this vulnerable population can lead to policy change and improved conditions in the agricultural sector.

Please note that this episode contains depictions of workplace abuse that some listeners may find difficult. Listen with care.

Related Content:


subscribe social icons Subscribe and listen to Population Healthy on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, iHeartRadio, YouTube or wherever you listen to podcasts!

Be sure to follow us at @umichsph on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, so you can share your perspectives on the issues we discussed, learn more from Michigan Public Health experts, and share episodes of the podcast with your friends on social media.

In This Episode



Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Global Public Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Alexis Handal’s research focuses on occupational and environmental epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, social epidemiology, and global health, and in particular, she works with Latinx and Indigenous populations in Latin America and in the United States. Handal studies the impact of large-scale agricultural production on the health of workers and surrounding communities, and with a particular focus on the health of female workers and pregnant workers and their families.



Research Investigator, University of Michigan School of Public Health

Lisbeth Iglesias-Rios is the lead investigator of the Michigan Farmworker Project (MFP). Developed in 2019, in collaboration with Alexis Handal, the MFP seeks to examine the occupational and environmental health exposures experienced by farmworkers in Michigan and relate this understanding to broader social and structural determinants such as precarious employment and labor exploitation.