NYCAMH Facing Budget Difficulties
Seeks To Raise Awareness
By TARA BARNWELL
On Tuesday, March 7, the New York Farm Bureau held a virtual press conference to voice its support for the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health and to highlight budget issues currently being faced by NYCAMH.
NYCAMH has a simple mission statement: “Enhancing agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness.”
“We are known as national experts in the agricultural field,” Erica Scott, deputy director of NYCAMH, said. “We promote the health and safety in agriculture. Our mission is carried out by utilizing research, outreach, education and clinical consultation services.”
An independent department of Bassett Healthcare, the agency has been in a “flat funding” situation for years. This means the $1 million annual budget hasn’t been increased or decreased since 2009.
“Costs for everything—medical and safety supplies, labor, and transportation—have risen on average by 20 percent,” Scott said. “But our budget hasn’t.”
“We visit farms and train people on safety and health issues. Farming is in the top 10 most dangerous occupations in the state,” Scott said. “We need to double our funding so we can continue to be a great resource for our farmers.”
Maryann Robinson, human resources manager for Sunnyside Farm in Scipio Center, New York, is concerned about the safety of her employees.
“NYCAMH used to conduct safety walk-throughs, first aid programs, machinery-specific training and other programs for us,” Robinson said. “Now they can’t come out for on-site visits anymore. It’s essential for us to have this training for the safety of our employees.”
Kim Skellie from El-Vi Farms in Newark, New York agreed.
“We milk 2,000 cows, have 35 full-time employees and 18-part timers,” Skellie said. “NYCAMH is very important to our company to keep our people safe. They also conduct animal handling and training. The organization would be very hard to replace.”
Governor Kathy Hochul, the New York State Senate and Assembly—as well as members of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee—are being contacted.
“We need to get our budget increased so we can help these farmers that need our help. It pains me that our staff can’t be responsive to them,” Scott said. “Right now, we can’t give the farmers what they need. We are a great resource and we have a fully-trained staff, but without funding, they can’t physically visit farms and do the training. All we want to do is help the farmers.”