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Proposal announced to prevent farming accidents

Today, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced a state funding proposal of $250,000 to enhance farm safety measures across the state.

The governor and lieutenant governor’s proposal includes three complementary approaches to address farm safety. Specifically, the funds will:

•Relaunch the Tractor Rollover Protection Grant Program, originally created by Minnesota Statute 17.119. Once reinstated, the program reimburses farmers who retrofit eligible tractors with rollover protective structures.

•Create a cost-share or reimbursement program for farmers who wish to invest in grain bin safety equipment.

•Conduct a farm safety outreach campaign highlighting tractor safety and grain bin safety and promoting the availability of this funding.

•Thousands of farmers, family members, and farm workers are injured, and hundreds die in farming accidents every year in the United States.

Although only about two percent of Minnesota’s workforce is engaged in agriculture, it accounted for more than 30 percent of workplace fatalities in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At least 10 people have died in farming-related accidents in Minnesota since June 2019.

“Too many Minnesota families have lost loved ones to preventable farming accidents,” Walz said. “That’s why I’m proposing new funding for safety measures like tractor rollover protection and grain bin safety equipment. We need to make sure all Minnesota farmers have access to these resources so they can work safely and prevent future tragedies.”

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other sources consistently cite tractors (including rollovers, entanglements, collisions, etc.) as the most common cause of death on farms nationally.

This announcement is another step in push to enhance farm safety and follows a bill introduced last week that would provide grants for farmers and schools to upgrade equipment for safety.

Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe are a part of that legislation in both the House and the Senate. Among those things the grants would be used for include upgrading tractors and grain bins.

Farmers could apply for funds to pay for 70 percent of the cost, or to get their out-of-pocket cost down to $500, whichever is greater. Schools could apply for the state to cover all costs of retrofitting their tractors.

“That’s a good cause and a good place for our money to go,” said Mower County Commissioner Polly Glynn.

Online

Promoting Safety: Legislators introduce bill that would provide hundreds of thousands in farm safety grants: www.austindailyherald.com/2020/02/promoting-safety-legislators-introduce-bill-that-would-provide-hundreds-of-thousands-in-farm-safety-grants/