According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 36 percent of U.S. dairy farmers lacked health insurance in 2011, compared to 9 percent of all farmers, the AP writes. Wisconsin dairy farmer Jay Vomastic told the AP, “I would say most farmers, in general, if it’s not a lost limb or something crushed, they’re probably not going to go to the doctor. If you’ve got a virus, it’s going to wear off.”
Most dairy farms in Shawano County, in the central part of the state, "are generations-old and small enough to be run by a family, perhaps with one or two workers," AP reports. "Farmers can easily spend eight hours or more on their feet, but increased mechanization has made them less active than previous generations. Add to that a diet traditionally heavy in milk, cheese and beef, which presents cholesterol and other risks. The initiative started in 2004 after health care workers and residents realized many farmers received no medical care until they turned up in emergency rooms. The tight-knit community, where farmers are active in schools, local government and state politics, formed a focus group."
That led a group of farmers' wives to start the initiative. Rhonda Strebel, the nurse who launched the program and now serves as its executive director, told the AP, “The vet comes to the farm. The milk man picks up delivery at the farm. The feed comes to the farm. Why should we make them change that?” (Read more)