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Community forum planned Oct. 25 will gather testimony on safety of Illinois farm workers

October 24, 2011

Photo of farm buildings and tractorAgriculture consistently ranks among the top three most hazardous occupations in the United States.

This summer, one migrant farm worker and two seasonal farm workers died tragic deaths in Illinois cornfields. Two of those who lost their lives were teenagers; the third was a husband and father of three daughters. Two other Illinois teenagers lost their lives in a grain bin incident in July 2010.

Farm worker service providers, health and safety professionals and advocates, and other concerned individuals have organized a community forum to hear testimony from impacted individuals and communities about current working conditions and proposals for change.

Open to the public, the forum will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, in the Heritage Room of NIU’s Holmes Student Center.

Legal experts, elected officials, public health professionals and worker and regulatory agency representatives have been invited to serve on the listening panel to receive public comment. Anyone concerned about the health and safety of those who work in Illinois agriculture is encouraged to share his or her views at the forum and can sign up to do upon arrival. Individuals who offer comment also are asked to bring one copy of their comments in writing.

Confirmed members of the listening panel include:

  • Robert Aherin, Ph.D., Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois
  • Joaquin Pastrana Uranga, Mexican Consulate, Chicago, Illinois
  • John Newquist, assistant regional administrator, OSHA Region V
  • Miguel Keberlein-Gutierrez, supervisory attorney, Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project
  • Dr. Cia-Mattae Kamara, medical director, Community Health Partnership of Illinois

This community forum made possible with the assistance of the NIU Latino Resource Center.