were the goals, and they seemed to fit nicely with both the increasing trend toward mechanization of agriculture and the movement of light industry into Valley towns. No effort has ever been made to train these stoop laborers for the more agriculture would require, nor have any programs been designed to help these experienced farmhands become farm owners and operators. either individually or through cooperatives. The premise of the manpower programs has been that farm labor is an unfit occupation. How much federal money? In Hidalgo County, there are currently eight major state and federal agencies receiving and spending money from the U.S. treasury to provide farmworker services. The Observer did not audit the records of the agencies to determine precisely how much has been spent on farmworkers nor was any attempt made to judge the performance of individual agencies. Instead, the agencies were asked to calculate approximately what portions of their budgets in the last ten years had been reserved for farmworker spending. For some, it was difficult to estimate what share of their funds went to aid farmworkers. For example, the Texas Department of Public Welfare \(now the Department of Human Recommodities and, later, food stamps, but its records do not show the occupations of recipients. In this case, it is assumed that food-stamp recipients in Hidalgo County have, for the most part, been farmworkers. If the assumption results in a slight overcount, it is more than balanced by the exclusion from consideration here of commodity distribution budgets prior to 1973. Records on this major expenditure were not available from DPW. The largest federal outlays by far were funneled through Hidalgo County’s 15 public school districts, and estimates of these expenditures were made by the Texas Education Agency. Special migrant education programs administered in the study period cost $57,892,887. TEA spent $10,434,859 on bilingual education efforts, whose major target was farmworker children. Programs for “dis advantaged children” funded under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act cost $43,082,441 \(children of non-migrant farm laborers fall into this “disadvantaged” category, but do not toects were funded at Pan American University in Edinburg: a high school the College Assistance Migrant Program outlay of more than $114 million in education funds for members of Hidalgo County farmworker families. Closely related in intent was money spent on job training. The associated City-County Economic Development Corporation and Hidalgo County Manpower programs spent about $43 million to retrain and relocate farmworkers. This figure also covered the costs of support services such as health and child care. DPW has distributed $81,210,163 worth of food stamps in the county since 1972. Food stamp issuance replaced the distribution of agricultural commodities, a program originally intended to support farm pricesfeeding the poor was an afterthought. In addition, long-term, lowinterest loans totaling $7,560,070 were made by the Farmers Home Administration to build two large farmworker housing projects, one in Weslaco and one in McAllen. Other grants and services have come into the county to aid farmworkersa force of VISTA volunteers and some mental health projects, for examplebut the total cost of these is not known. Nonetheless, as the accompanying chart shows, just this non-exhaustive count of federal funds funneled through nine programs to Hidalgo County farmworkers in the last decade comes to $251,718,920. How far have they come? What has a decade of assistance and a quarter of a billion dollars bought? A look at current statistics on income, health, education and housing is instructiveand discouraging. The come of $2,919 for Hidalgo County, the lowest in Texas and well below the statewide figure of $5,631. The Governor’s Office of Migrant Affairs reports that the median family income for migrants is $3,990, a sum that, on the average, must support six people. Seventyeight percent of all migrant households earn incomes below the poverty level. Considering the bite of inflation, which has been most severe on consumer items that people must buyfood, housing, medicineTexas farmworkers are mark ly worse off today than they were a decade ago. No great strides have been made in education. The school dropout rate in 1976 was 84 percent for migrant workers. In Hidalgo County, 69.7 percent of migrant adults aged 25 or older have completed less than four years of school. Increases in funding for migrant health projects in the county haven’t kept pace with the rising costs of medical services. Inflation has decreased the value of the $10-per-migrant allocation the projects started out with to an effective worth of about $5. Migrant farmworker families, according to the state’s Good Neighbor Commission, still suffer from a high incidence of malnutrition. Their mortality rates for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are two and a half times the national average. The rates for influenza and pneumonia are 20 percent higher than those for the general population. Infant mortality ratescalculated on the number of infant deaths per thousand birthsare generally considered the best indicator of health conditions in an area. In 1966, the infant mortality rate in Hidalgo County was 23.9 per thousand. It had dropped to 12.9 per thousand by 1976, but the apparent improvement may not be realthe change may be explained in part by the growing numbers of Mexican women who cross the border to deliver in American hospitals. They account for as many as 20 percent of the births in some of the county’s hospitals and clinics, but because they take their babies back to Mexico shortly after birth, subsequent deaths are not registered. Improved health conditions for the general population have lowered general mortality rates, but improvements don’t necessarily extend to farmworkers. The average life expectancy of a migrant laborer is 49 years. And, in a study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, morbidity \(illwere computed in several Rio Grande Valley towns. The rates for Pharr, where the low SES group is composed almost entirely of farmworkers, are representative: Pharr, Texas Morbidity Rates* low high SES SES tuberculosis 91.5 28.2 strepthroat and scarlet fever 1,496.6 296.4 amebiasis, salmonellosis and shingellosis 68.6 0.0 hepatitis 124.4 56.3 per 100,000 population Housing, always a major problem for farmworkers, has seen negligible improvement. Most farmworker families live in colonias, unincorporated rural
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