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July 2004, Volume 10, Number 3

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Farm Worker Services, Data

For the past three years, President Bush has proposed eliminating the National Farmworker Jobs Program, or NFJP, which provided $76.6 million in FY04 to train farm workers for better jobs. An OMB assessment found that the NFJP is "ineffective" and that there is too little competition for the DOL-administered grants.

DOL reported that, for FY03, some 17,800 farm workers received services under NFJP, and 6,600 of those who received English-as-a-second-language lessons, work experience and vocational classroom training made the transition into full-time, nonagricultural employment.

According to the 50 NFJP grant recipients, more than 80 percent of participants in training programs got new jobs that raised their annual earnings by an average $4,500. The Association of Farm Worker Opportunity Programs opposes the Bush plan to simply include farm worker funds in block grants to states, saying that states will not pay special attention to farm workers.

Health Paradox. The so-called Mexican health paradox is that recently arrived migrants tend to be healthier than Mexican-born US residents who have been in the US more than five years, that is, the health of Mexican migrants seems to decline over time. Mexican farm workers experience obesity and high blood pressure after being in the US because, as low-income residents, they have easier access to cheap and often fatty foods. Most Mexican-born US farm workers are solo males (men in the US without their families), and many drink too much and engage in risky sexual behavior.

WIC. The $4.6 billion Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or W.I.C., helps feed 7.7 million people each month by providing vouchers for infant formula, juice, eggs, milk, cheese, cereal and dried beans. New stores have opened that accept only the government vouchers that cover specified items, not cash. The government pays for WIC items regardless of cost, and the new stores have higher costs than normal retail stores.

W.I.C. serves nearly half of the four million infants born each year in their first year of life, plus 5.7 million pregnant women, new mothers and children age one to four in families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty level, or less than $28,990 a year for a family of three.