LETTER: Passage of NY Health Act vital for young farmers, Bari Zeiger, Kingston Daily Freeman

By Bari Zeiger, president of the Greater Catskills Young Farmers Coalition, July 28, 2019

Farmers provide society with the nourishment required for life, and they steward numerous other crucial resources, such as air and water. 

However, when it comes to taking care of farmers, many face significant obstacles to accessing sufficient, affordable health care.

Agricultural work is physically and mentally intense; there are long hours bending and lifting (sometimes with potentially hazardous equipment, chemicals and/or livestock) in the sun and in treacherous conditions, as well as a seemingly continuous stream of unpredictable stressors that can threaten already thin profit margins.

The New York Health Act was identified as the highest priority among respondents in a 2018 survey that asked young New York farmers about the importance of several policy issues. Lack of health care access infringes on the ability of farmers to actualize their tremendous potential, as many are forced to find jobs off the farm to receive health benefits. Others may avoid addressing health concerns because of lack of coverage, or too little coverage, until they escalate to the point of emergency….

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