Rafter Ferguson

Scientist, Food and Environment

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Rafter Ferguson is a scientist with the Food & Environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Ferguson conducts research integrating quantitative empirical methods with critical social and political analyses, giving weight to both scientific expertise and grassroots perspectives. As a political agroecologist, his work addresses the multidimensional performance of farming systems as well as the ways in which our ideas about agriculture translate into policy with complex consequences. See Rafter's full bio.

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Bob Nichols/USDA

Pesticides, Heat, and the People Who Feed Us: Climate Change Is Making Farmworkers’ Dangerous Job Even Worse

In a new report released this week, we show that climate change poses dire threats to farmworkers. While conversations around agriculture and climate change have increasingly focused on the devastating impacts of extreme weather, or ways in which farmers might help fight climate change, the farmworkers that are the backbone of our agricultural system have often been left out. This is a problem. Read more >

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Strawberry pickers in Salinas, CA. Farmworkers typically wear long-sleeve shirts year-round in order to protect themselves from sun, insects, and pesticides.

It’s National Heat Awareness Day—Let’s Protect Farmworkers from Extreme Heat

The last Friday in May is National Heat Awareness Day. For those of us in parts of the country where summer has already arrived like a sack of bricks, you might be thinking “Don’t remind me!” I know that here in DC, my short morning commute is starting to feel like a steamy tropical hike. Read more >

Holger Hubbs
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My Food and Farm Reading List for Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and I’m taking the opportunity to deepen my understanding of our food system. I originally pulled together this short reading list for myself, before realizing that others might make use of it too! Since February is just one month (and the shortest month at that) I’ve kept it to just four books. That’s an ambitious reading goal in any event, but let’s not be intimidated – if you (or I) start now and take six months to read these books, it will be time very well spent. I’m excited to use this opportunity to understand the breadth and depth of these issues a little better. Luckily, there are some amazing resources to draw on.

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Why We Can’t Separate Justice and Sustainability in the Food System

Most of us wish we could eat with the confidence that everything on our plate has a story we can feel good about, a story about taking care of both people and the environment. In the food system (as elsewhere) these twin issues, justice and sustainability, have often been talked about as if they were unrelated, independent problems with separate solutions. Read more >

USDA photo by Preston Keres
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