This paper examines public policy towards childhood agricultural injuries and attempts to clarify some of the issues and choices involved in occupational safety policy from a non-advocacy perspective. It examines the nature of the public policy process, discusses some of the value judgments involved with public policy towards childhood agricultural injuries, and then explores the various policy measures available.The normative nature of public policy means public policy decisions can never be made entirely upon the basis of fact; some value judgment is always necessary to provide interpretation to the facts (e.g., “childhood injury rates are too high, so something must be done”). Individuals and groups concerned about the public policy issue may all agree on the facts and differ only on the values used for interpretation.An issue surrounding public policy is the determination of whose interests should be favored. Should farm families continue to enjoy their current freedom from interference by others when that means, for example, that a certain number of children will be injured? Or is the public health need to protect children more important, making public restrictions on risky behaviors acceptable? The special nature of farms (which are simultaneously businesses and homes) makes resolving such value judgments difficult and controversial. The type of measures used to implement childhood agricultural safety policy will have great bearing on the potential consequences of individuals’ actions, the distribution of program costs, and the impact of the policy. Finding an acceptable balance between voluntary and compulsory policy measures is difficult. Treating agriculture like other occupations by imposing safety rules could easily turn farming into just another occupation by stripping away its unique aspects. Relying upon voluntaiy measures, such as massive subsidies of safety equipment, may be unpalatable to taxpayers and consumers because of the huge cost involved.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health