Welcome to the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH)

A tractor silouhette at sunset.

Our mission is to prevent agricultural injury and illness and improve safety and health among agricultural communities.

Who we are

The GPCAH, founded in 1990, is a nationally recognized agricultural research, education, and prevention center located within the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.  Our relationship with Iowa’s rural communities is particularly meaningful when considering (i) 1 in 5 Iowans work in agriculture-related jobs, (ii) 221,000 Iowa farmers produce $30.8 billion in products per year, and (iii) farmer fatality rates in Iowa are 11 times the national average for all workers.

We do not stop working at Iowa’s borders. The GPCAH region (producing much of this nation’s food across 582,000 farms) carries a significant burden of severe occupational injuries and agricultural-related fatalities. This region, America’s most agriculturally intensive, includes Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota

As one of 11 nationally-funded NIOSH centers, we are dedicated to improving the safety and health of agricultural workers situated throughout America’s Heartland. View our faculty and staff here and our advisory committees here.

Our partner states. The Midwest is America's most agriculturally intensive region, which results in a significantly higher number of agricultural injuries and illnesses compared to other regions.

We serve these nine states in the region. The Midwest is America’s most agriculturally intensive region, which results in a significantly higher number of agricultural injuries and illnesses when compared to other regions.

What we do

We are committed to improving the safety and health of agricultural communities through scientific research, education, outreach, and intervention programming.  Our current priorities include

  • providing outreach and education through presentations and events, online resources, and educational opportunities such as our annual Agricultural Health and Safety Core Course.
  • promoting innovative outreach and research efforts to prevent agricultural injury and illness through our pilot grant program
  • promoting the multi-center web site “Telling the Story” which highlights personal accounts and in-depth coverage of agricultural injuries and fatalities
  • assessing and responding to regional needs through evaluation and ongoing interaction with stakeholders

What we did in 2018

The list below highlights the kinds of work that we do. Find more details in our annual report and Center Projects pages.

  • Introduced the Pesticide Drift Story Mapping project, a new online tool that helps Iowa farmers more efficiently plan pesticide applications.
  • Developed and piloted SaferTrek, a GPS/video device that measures travel distance between vehicles and identifies other motorists driving behaviors. We have also put together an advisory committee. Learn more here.
  • Designed and built a prototype mobile air filtration system to remove dust and bioaerosols from swine farrowing barns. Learn more here.
  • Evaluated performance of low-cost H2S (hydrogen sulfide) monitors for use in livestock operations, communicated findings to agricultural engineers, and recommended new maintenance procedures to farmers.
  • Collaborated with extension personnel to provide H2S training to over 200 cattle producers, farmworkers, and manure applicators in IA and WI. Provided information on hazards, best practices, and hands-on use of gas monitors. One farmer stated that once he used a monitor, he “realized the nature of the beast and that the odds are against you” without them.
  • Partnered with a national insurance company to develop a farm hazard assessment tool for use by insurance agents.
  • Translated surveillance findings into risk and prevention posters for regional educators to incorporate into agricultural programs at community colleges and universities. Provided posters to more than 100 regional educators.


We invite your to explore our website and social media outlets to learn more. Please contact jennifer-j-pattterson@uiowa.edu if you have any comments or concerns.

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