Michigan Farmworker Project (MFP)

The Michigan Farmworker Project (MFP) is a community-engaged project that aims to provide a deeper understanding of the complex working and living conditions of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the state of Michigan and the relationship with health outcomes in this population. The MFP seeks to identify indicators of labor exploitation in farmworkers and relate this understanding to farmworker’s psychosocial, occupational and environmental risk factors as well as gaps in service provision and recommendations from farmworkers themselves to address their current working and living conditions.

Key Personnel

  • Alexis Handal, PhD, MPH, Principal Investigator
  • Lisbeth Iglesias-Rios, PhD, MPH, Co-investigator and Senior Study Coordinator
  • Marie O’Neill, PhD, Co-investigator
  • Paul Fleming, PhD, MPH, Co-investigator
  • Mislael Valentín Cortés, Doctoral Student, Research Assistant
  • Maria Jhoana Barajas, Doctoral Student, Research Assistant

Preliminary Analysis: MFP and COVID-19 Pandemic

The MFP found that farmworkers (migrant, seasonal, and H-2A)—considered "essential workers" - face challenging working and living conditions that are critical to address during the COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts to limit COVID-19 risks in this population require an evidence-based, multifactorial approach that involves workers, employees, and stake-holders. In a policy brief, the researchers recommend that enforcement actions be taken to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protection and mitigation guidelines instead of reliance on self-compliance.

Reports and Policy Briefs


These are the most recent news items for the Michigan Farmworker Project (MFP). View all Center news.

IN THE NEWS: Michigan Farmworker Project featured on Michigan Public’s “Stateside” (AUDIO 🔊)
“The exploitation of the workers often is threaded through their environment, their working, and their living environment. We have to look at the whole context and the whole picture to really try to understand how this type of work impacts worker health, as well as the health of their families and their communities.” — Alexis J. Handal, PhD, MPH
“Most research in public health has captured occupational and environmental exposures like injuries, falls, or exposure to pesticides in the workers, but we see the importance of contextualizing why farmworkers suffer from occupational and environmental exposures, the dynamics of the working environment, and fundamentally the social vulnerability of workers.” — Lisbeth Iglesias-Ríos, PhD, MPH, MA
Read more at Michigan Public
Posted: December 11 2023
IN THE NEWS: “Mistreatment of Michigan farmworkers: U-M researchers document abuses, push for change” with Center Core Faculty Alexis Handal, PhD, MPH and Lisbeth Iglesias-Ríos, PhD, MPH, MA
“There are multisystem failures in the protection of farmworkers in Michigan,” said Iglesias-Rios, a research investigator at the U-M School of Public Health. “We identified dimensions of precarious employment and labor exploitation that involve lacking access to fundamental labor and social rights, including dehumanization, discriminatory occupational practices and insufficient access to health care and social benefits.”
Read more at Michigan News (English / Inglés)
» More at Michigan News (Spanish / Español)

Posted: October 27 2023
CONGRATULATIONS!: Lisbeth Iglesias-Ríos, PhD, MPH, MA appointed Research Investigator
Lisbeth Iglesias-Ríos, PhD, MPH, MA has been appointed as a Research Investigator in the Center for Midlife Science. Dr. Iglesias-Ríos received her PhD in Epidemiological Science at University of Michigan in 2018, an MPH in Biostatistics from University of New Mexico in 2020, MA in Psychiatry and Medical Psychology from Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona in 2000.

Dr. Iglesias-Rios is the lead investigator of the Michigan Farmworker Project (MFP). Developed in 2019, in collaboration with Dr. Alexis Handal, the goal of this community-based participatory research program is to provide a deeper understanding of the complex working and living conditions of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the state of Michigan. The MFP seeks to examine the occupational and environmental health exposures experienced by farmworkers in Michigan and relate this understanding to broader social and structural determinants such as precarious employment and labor exploitation.

Posted: May 10 2023