UMASH – the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center – brings a multidisciplinary approach guided by One Health principles to improve the health and safety of agricultural workers and their families in the Upper Midwest region.

Explore how UMASH is working to promote health and safety on the farm!

Latest News
  • In The Field / SpotlightJanuary 18, 2024
    Possible or probable? MDH tracks potential farm-related injuries to prevent future risksDr. Erik Zabel studies health and safety on farms. In his work, he looks at data about injuries and illnesses from hospitals and clinics to understand which injuries likely happened on farms. Using hospital discharge data (diagnosis codes and e-codes), Erik is tracking farm injuries and working to develop a farm safety indicator. A farm safety indicator could be used to accurately track the number of farm injuries over time, which would provide insight into whether safety programs have helped reduce the number of injuries, create possible and probable safety and health categories, and target where workplace interventions may be helpful. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightNovember 29, 2023
    Honoring the Life of Carol PetersonAll of us at UMASH are deeply saddened to share that our dear friend and colleague, Carol M. Peterson, passed away November 19, 2023. Carol was a significant part of the UMASH team, and a gift to the agricultural safety and health community. We are deeply grateful for Carol’s impact and contributions, as well as the relationships and memories made along the way. [...]
  • In The FieldNovember 22, 2023
    Fall ConnectionsNOVEMBER 2023 Autumn is a significant season in agriculture, and UMASH had an active month connecting with colleagues and FFA students and making new connections. Fraternizing at FFA UMASH & National Farm Medicine Center’s (NFMC) Scott Heiberger and Melissa Ploeckelman traveled to the 2023 National FFA Convention. Thousands of attendees, both students and advisors, get a front row seat to agricultural safety and health when they visit the NFMC booth, where farm safety jeopardy initiates conversations and resource sharing around farm safety. Making a splash at MRASH UMASH staff and researchers also gathered in Dubuque, Iowa, November 8-9, 2023, for the Midwest Rural Agricultural Safety and Health Conference (MRASH). UMASH’s work was presented to conference attendees, including a Telling the Story Project workshop and a poster on the Promoting Safety and Worker Health for Immigrant Dairy Workers research project. The National Farm Medicine Center was part of the MRASH conference with Dr. Florence Becot and her research project, which focuses on understanding the impact of individual and environmental influences on farmers and how likely they are to seek mental health support. Also attending was Jakob Hanschu from the Rural Firefighter Delivering Ag Health and Safety project, which has expanded internationally. Brief from the Board Our work is guided by the input of the UMASH Advisory Board, who represent many facets of Upper Midwest agriculture. On November 16, 2023, Advisory Board Members from South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota gathered virtually to revisit UMASH’s activities over the past year, and discuss a variety of ongoing and emerging farm safety issues and priorities.  The board members took this time to share the issues that keep them up at night and how UMASH can continue its work to promote agricultural health and safety to keep farm workers and families safe, and help us all sleep a little better! On the road again UMASH & National Farm Medicine Center’s (NFMC) Scott Heiberger and Melissa Ploeckelman attended the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters conference in Kansas City, Missouri on November 15-17. This conference results in dozens of interviews, highlighting new resources and important information from the agricultural health and safety experts. We’re thankful for a community committed to the health of our agricultural workforce. Happy Holiday Season! [...]
  • In The FieldOctober 31, 2023
    Scene and Herd in SeptemberSeptember was a busy month for meetings and presentations. The Ag Centers Safety and Health Summit in Marshfield, WI; the Auction of Champions at National Farm Medicine Center, and John Gibbins, DVM, MPH, dipl. ACVPM visited to UMASH and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine. [...]
  • In The FieldSeptember 11, 2023
    Cultivating Wellness for Aging Farmers through PartnershipsMany farmers in our region continue to live and work well past retirement age. Aging can bring on new challenges on the farm. The body changes with age, sometimes causing slow reaction times, mobility challenges, eyesight, and hearing loss. As you can imagine, these physical changes can make working with farm hazards like pesticides, animals, and heavy machinery more dangerous. With this in mind, UMASH has been working on projects and encouraging conversations to help make sure farmers are safe on the farm as they grow older. Join us on October 12, 2023, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. to learn more, network, and participate in a panel discussion and Q&A with UMASH aging partners. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightSeptember 6, 2023
    ACTION! Recognizing Student Participants in the 2023 Ag Communications ContestFor the third year, UMASH and Dr. Troy McKay’s agricultural communications course created short one-minute health and safety videos, sometimes known as public service announcements (PSAs). This course is titled Advanced Video Production for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (AECM 4432) and is an Agricultural Education, Communications and Marketing course offered through the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource sciences at the University of Minnesota. [...]
  • In The FieldSeptember 6, 2023
    Living Healthy, Farming Safely at MN FarmfestOn August 1-3, for the fifth year, we collaborated with our partners to host the UMASH Wellness Pavilion at the 2023 Minnesota Farmfest, the largest farm show in Minnesota. Hosted on the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County, Minnesota, this event attracts thousands of farmers, workers, families, state and local officials, and community members from across the region. The Wellness Pavilion offers hands-on activities, blood pressure screenings, and live ag safety demonstrations to encourage learning and conversation about Living Healthy, Farming Safely. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightAugust 27, 2023
    Do you believe in… farm safety? FFA’ers share their thoughtsUMASH and the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety teamed up to survey FFA-ers’ at their 2022 National Convention. This is the fourth year we have surveyed students to gather insights on the next generation of agriculture. The previous years were 2018, 2019, and 2021. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightJuly 16, 2023
    Telling the Story at ISASH 2023The Telling the Story Project team was at the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) in Tampa, Florida in June 2023. The team led a workshop called Taking Telling the Story to the Next Level. [...]
  • In The Field / Spotlight / ToolkitJuly 12, 2023
    Hazy Days: Wildfire Smoke Safety While Working OutdoorsWildfire smoke and poor air quality affect farmers and farm workers. Since agriculture is an outdoor job, it’s important to be in the know about air quality, the dangers of working outside, and how to stay safe. UMASH has compiled a toolkit with many resources to help farmers know the key terms, hazards, and strategies to keep themselves safe and healthy in these dangerous environmental conditions. [...]
  • In The FieldJuly 11, 2023
    Building Networks and Expertise for a Safer and Healthier Future: UMN Public Health InstituteSeveral UMASH faculty and staff kicked off summer in the classroom for the 2023 Public Health Institute (PHI) at the University of Minnesota. Practicing professionals and graduate students get academic or continuing education credits to build and expand their expertise and networks at PHI, with over 30 offerings in 2023, ranging from policy development and systems thinking to communications and analysis. [...]
  • In The FieldJune 20, 2023
    2023 NORA Symposium: Changing the Climate of Worker Health and SafetyThe Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (MCOHS) and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) co-hosted the NORA online symposium on April 27, 2023. The symposium, entitled “Changing the Climate of Worker Health and Safety: A Forum on Lessons and Actions to Foster a Resilient Workforce,” brought together experts to discuss how climate change will impact environmental, social, mental and physical health in a variety of workplaces and industries. The lessons and actions shared during this year’s NORA Symposium underscored the importance of preparedness and training to foster a resilient workforce. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightJune 14, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating LGBTQ+ Farmers during Pride MonthHappy Pride Month! Each June, we celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others in the LGBTQ+ community! Many LGBTQ+ farmers call the Upper Midwest home. The latest census reported that over 2,000 LGBTQ+ farmers live and work in the region; however, this is likely a big underestimate since the census only recognizes married partnerships and collects limited data about gender identity. To celebrate the LGBTQ+ farmers this Pride Month, listen and read about the experiences of some LGBTQ+ farmers in our region, and consider action steps to celebrate, affirm, and support LGBTQ+ people in your communities. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMay 9, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Concentrating on Calves: Prep for a Safe and Successful SpringSpring is a season of renewal, and a busy time for farmers, farmworkers, and agricultural communities. It is a welcome relief from the long Upper Midwest winter and marks the arrival of new calves and the beginning of the growing season. To ensure the health of the herd and workers, keep safe animal handling and disease prevention procedures in mind. Prioritizing health and safety during this time can help support your operation’s success and sustainability for years to come. Our ag health and safety partners have been diligently sharing information about how to have a safe calving season this year. Read on for more! [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMay 9, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Stay Safe Around Manure!Manure is a valuable resource for crop production. However, as manure decomposes, invisible gases are released, which can be deadly. Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, is particularly dangerous. In addition, there can be an increased release of such gasses during manure agitation. This is especially true when manure slurry contains sulfur compounds from gypsum bedding, poor water quality, or other sources. Read on for information about work at Pennsylvania State University to increase awareness of these dangers and guidelines for preventing injury or death around manure storage. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMay 9, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Examining the Past and Patterns to Promote Ag Health and Safety with NFMCThe National Farm Medicine Center Year (NFMC) recently published their Year in Review, and NFMC and UMASH researchers Casper Bendixsen and Florence Becot contributed to an article on “Automation, Climate Change, and the Future of Farm Work: Cross-Disciplinary Lessons for Studying Dynamic Changes in Agricultural Health and Safety.” UMASH shares some highlights of their collaboration and recent work. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightApril 28, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Counting sheep on the farm: Sleep ToolkitSince there are always so many things to get done on the farm, it can be hard to get healthy sleep. Sleeping too little, too long, or experiencing other sleep problems like struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep can leave farmers feeling exhausted, making it more likely for mistakes or injuries to happen. Consider these quick tips for healthy sleep during the day and at bedtime, and read on for our full toolkit of sleep resources. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightApril 28, 2023
    Centered on One Health: UMASH Colleagues Gather in PersonOn the warm, sunny morning of Thursday, April 13th, 2023, UMASH researchers and staff gathered for the first in-person Center meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees represented each of UMASH’s collaborating institutions, including researchers and experts from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, University of Minnesota Veterinary School, Migrant Clinicians Network, National Farm Medicine Center, and the Minnesota Department of Health. In addition to networking and sharing Center updates, two UMASH researchers, Dr. Noelle Noyes and Dr. Florence Becot, presented about their current research projects, which were funded in the most recent renewal. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightApril 19, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Happy 20th! Annie’s Project Turns 20 This YearAnnie’s Project, a national non-profit to educate and empower women in agriculture, is celebrating 20 years since its founding this year! Their mission is to empower women in agriculture to be successful through education, networks and resources. Annie’s Project provides educational programs designed to strengthen women’s roles in modern agricultural enterprises. The goal is to facilitate confidence, networks, and lifelong learners among women farmers, ranchers, growers, landowners, and agriculturalists. Congratulations to Annie’s Project! [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightApril 14, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Spring Anhydrous Ammonia SafetyApril 2023 Photo Credit @Iowa Farmer Today Anhydrous ammonia is a popular fertilizer in agriculture; however, without proper precaution, its use and storage can pose safety risks to farmers and surrounding communities. Read the article below for ways to protect yourself from anhydrous ammonia through personal protective equipment (PPE) and sound handling practices. Anhydrous ammonia can be deadly, but there is time to react By Mandy Archer, Outreach Specialist for the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health Republished from Iowa Farmer Today with permission from the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health If you have ever caught a whiff of ammonia while cleaning your kitchen or bathroom, you will know it has a strong, pungent smell that resembles the smell of urine. Likewise, when you are outside you can smell anhydrous ammonia (or NH3) at low concentrations, around 25 ppm (parts per million). Fortunately, it takes greater than 220 ppm for NH3 to cause irreparable damage to humans. This gives you time to clear the area if you smell ammonia, and since NH3 is a colorless gas, your sense of smell can help you to escape a leak before any critical damage is done. However, there are more effective ways that you can protect yourself from anhydrous ammonia other than smell alone. Anhydrous ammonia is a common fertilizer, but just because it is widely used does not mean that the safety risks are minimal. The word “anhydrous” means “without water,” and NH3 is waiting to bond with water to create NH4+ which will attach to soil particles. When anhydrous is injected, this reaction occurs underneath the ground when NH3 comes into contact with moisture. However, if the vapor gets into the air before combining with the soil, it will be extremely attracted to any moisture it can find, including on your body. Good handling practices can also reduce the risk of a spill and exposure. NH3 is typically gaseous, but under the compression and pressure of a nurse or storage tank, it becomes a liquid. Warm outdoor temperatures will cause anhydrous liquid to expand in the tank. To account for this, only fill NH3 to 85% or less of the tank’s capacity. To avoid leaks, inspect all the components of the nurse tank before filling. Check for cuts and other abnormalities on the hoses (flattening, soft spots, bulges), properly inflate tires, and tighten wheel bolts. If the nurse tank has any dents, leaking or cracks it must be immediately repaired or replaced. Make sure you park the nurse tank on level ground, downwind from where you will be applying. Hold valves firmly by the body and not the handle as they may accidentally open. Finally, communicate with family and co-workers about when you are using anhydrous ammonia so that those around you are aware of the risks The best way to counter an ammonia exposure is with water. All farm vehicles transporting anhydrous must be equipped with a 5-gallon supply of clean water, which should be used if you encounter NH3. A second 5-gallon water container should be kept on your tractor or other nearby vehicle. Finally, carry a 6- to 8-ounce plastic eye wash bottle filled with water on your person to quickly flush out your eyes if needed. NH3 can cause clothing to adhere to the body. Rinse the clothing under water to soften it before removing it or it can pull at the skin and cause skin damage. Contact 911 immediately if you are exposed to anhydrous. Wash your eyes and/or body for at least 15 minutes if possible with the water sources on your vehicles. If you inhale the vapor, drink large amounts of water to dilute the chemical in your body. In addition, call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report an anhydrous leak if the release is 100 lbs. of NH3 or more in the first 24 hours, and be prepared to contact other local, environmental authorities. Ultimately, if you work with anhydrous ammonia on the farm, you are at risk of an exposure. Being informed and having the proper PPE and water to combat the chemical will reduce your risk for injury. Take care of yourself and others by using extreme caution when you work with ammonia. You will not regret taking the time to keep you and those around you safe. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMarch 11, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: JAVMA Viewpoint: Psychological implications of humane endings on the veterinary professionOn-farm conditions can vary greatly and can include responding to animal disease outbreaks. Such incidents evoke difficult decisions, including depopulation, or humane endings for livestock. Farmers, veterinarians, and other agricultural professionals can experience tremendous stress and trauma during these events. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) recently published a Viewpoint on the Psychological implications of humane endings on the veterinary profession. The article emphasizes the mental health impacts of the profession of veterinary medicine, particularly the impact of making end-of-life decisions regarding animals. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMarch 11, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Electrical safety – Stay prepared & aware this spring!Spring brings even more activity to the farm, with preparation for fieldwork and the growing season, young livestock, and all the daily work that gets done. Take time to refresh on overhead and buried power lines and cables before moving augers or digging for your latest tile drainage. This article, republished from Safe Electricity, urges farmworkers to be aware of overhead power lines and to keep equipment and extensions far away from them. [...]
  • In The FieldMarch 9, 2023
    Pigs & Public HealthOn February 26, 2023, UMASH Director, Dr. Jeff Bender, discussed public health aspects related to African swine fever and global animal health with National Hog Farmer and Feedstuffs in their African Swine Fever iCOMOS webinar series. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Bruce Alexander, UMASH’s founding and former director. [...]
  • In The FieldMarch 3, 2023
    Manure is risky business – we’re putting safety first!MARCH 2023 As a part of our Emerging Issues Program, UMASH has been working to understand and prevent injuries and fatalities related to manure management.  A recent study by UMASH and colleagues at the University of Minnesota Extension explored the self-reported occupational hazards of manure applicators in Minnesota. In October 2022, UMASH’s Devon Charlier and Carol Peterson were invited to share the results of this study as a part of a webinar for the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community (LPELC). This talk, as well as presentations from Dr. Rebecca Larson on manure emissions and from Dr. Dee Elils on zoonotic disease threats, can be viewed here. As we work to address this emerging issue, stay tuned on our website and sign up for our e-mail listserv to stay informed as we work to address this emerging issue in agricultural health and safety. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightMarch 1, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Lead the Way in Safety during ASAP Week 2023This year, ASAP Week is March 6-10 with a theme of “Lead the Way in Safety.” Each day of the week highlights a different agricultural health and safety focus. Check out UMASH resources for each day’s topic below, and use the promotional toolkit to share your own safety messages! [...]
  • In The FieldFebruary 25, 2023
    Ag Health and Safety on the Hill – Q&A with UMASH Student, Erica ShuckEach year, UMASH leaders visit with congressional staff at the U.S. capitol to educate them about the importance of funding agricultural health and safety programming. This year, UMASH research assistant Erica Shuck joined Center Director Jeff Bender, Outreach Director and Center Coordinator Megan Schossow, and Founding Center Director Bruce Alexander on their trip to “the Hill.” Read more about her experience below. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightFebruary 15, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: UMASH Behind the ScenesIn the latest SPH Behind the Scenes, University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH) Interim Dean Tim Beebe interviewed Center Director Dr. Jeff Bender, Research Project Specialist Chela Vázquez, and Center Coordinator and Director of Outreach Megan Schossow. They share their stories and discuss their work and current topics in agricultural health and safety, like the impact of the changing climate, workforce, and agricultural industry. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightFebruary 15, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Promoting safety and health during avian influenza outbreaksOutbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continue to occur across the United States and globally, affecting millions of birds. UMASH has responded to the HPAI outbreak by developing a toolkit, serving as a resource, and collaborating with partners. This NIOSH blog post highlights efforts during the outbreak to communicate about HPAI, its risks to workers, and prevention strategies. [...]
  • In The Field / SpotlightFebruary 15, 2023
    SPOTLIGHT: Call 1-800-FARM-AID for support in English or SpanishUMASH is a collaborative center of five leading research and healthcare institutions. One of our collaborators, Migrant Clinicians Network, recently highlighted the Spanish-language hotline they created with Farm Aid. All farmers, including Spanish-speaking farmers, can call 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) and receive support. [...]
  • In The FieldFebruary 3, 2023
    Kicking Off 2023 Talking Farm SafetyWith 2023 under way, the UMASH outreach team has been covering ground to continue to amplify health and safety in Upper Midwest agriculture. Looking for ag health and safety resources, speakers, or experts? Please reach out. [...]





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The center is a collaboration of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine, the National Farm Medicine Center of the Marshfield Clinic with the Migrant Clinicians Network, and the Minnesota Department of Health. This collaboration brings together unique and complimentary expertise to address existing and emerging occupational health and safety issues in agriculture.

  • University of Minnesota School of Public Health
  • National Farm Medicine Center
  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Migrant Clinicians Network