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Hmong Farmer Narratives of Pesticide Use in the Central Valley, California

  • Author(s): Thao, Chia
  • Advisor(s): Burke, Nancy
  • et al.


Pesticide use has undeniably contributed to greater crop yield. However, concerns about pesticide usage, particularly its impact on the environment and human health, have arisen. Farmers are exposed to pesticides in far greater numbers than the general population. Not surprisingly, studies show that pesticide exposure is associated with adverse health impacts in farming populations, including small-scale minority farmers such as Hmong community farmers in the Central Valley of California. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the factors that influence pesticide exposure among small-scale Hmong farmers in the California Central Valley. This research builds upon earlier studies that found Hmong farmers have great difficulty navigating the farming space in the Central Valley due to low literacy, language barriers, and limited in-language pesticide resources. I combined in-depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic observations in the current study. In-depth interviews included (a) narratives of adaptation to new farming practices in a foreign country, (b) explorations of components of pesticide literacy through descriptions of the flows of pesticide education and informal training, and (c) documenting the factors that contribute to the pesticide take-home pathway. Recommendations range from advocating for more culturally and linguistically appropriate pesticide safety training and educational programs be tailored to Hmong farmers, promoting available resources, and providing more services for Hmong community farmers in the United States.

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