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NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
For the current work of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program, please visit our directory page.

farm, forest, fishing boat

Inputs: Emerging Issues

The following are a few of the emerging scientific and health issues in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector.

  • The Agricultural, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting Sector is being transformed by the recent developments and implementation of science and technology in almost every step of the agricultural process. For example, global positioning system-controlled tractors are being used in large farms and genetics are being used to reproduce animals with specific characteristics. 1
  • Although agricultural methods are constantly transforming through technological innovation, older technology continues to be used, particularly on family farms. For example, approximately half of the 4.8 million tractors in the United States do not have roll-over protective structures (ROPS) installed on tractors manufactured before 1985, when manufacturers voluntarily started installing ROPS on new tractors as standard equipment.
  • Adoption of new technologies, such as biotechnology, may benefit productivity, but new technologies can result in unanticipated occupational safety and health risks and benefits. For example, the introduction of a pest-resistant bioengineered crop enables farmers to reduce the use of pesticides, saving pesticide application costs and reducing exposures to pesticides.
  • Threats such as avian flu affect the sector economically and also affect the safety and health of exposed workers.
  • The introduction of synthetic rope replacing cable, radio controlled chokers, video monitoring, robotic functions, and autonomous systems in harvesting timber.
  • Safety and health research in forestry and logging is needed in development of surveillance systems, methods of education and sharing information, issues for remote work areas, among other priority areas mentioned under strategic goals 6 and 7 in the NORA Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing agenda.
  • Fishery management techniques are under review and potential revisions which may lead to opportunities to evaluate and recommend safe procedures in this industry.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor [2006]. Career guide to industries, 2006-07 Edition, Agriculture, forestry, and fishing. [ ]. Date accessed: March 17, 2006.