by Mickey Smith
Local businesses are teaming up with the UVM Extension Service and the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) to help “raise the bar” and make sure that bar is secured to tractors around the state.
The UVM Extension Service is trying to get the word out about rollover protection structures (ROPS) and their Rebates for Roll Bars Program. With the program, farmers (and anyone who owns a tractor) can get a roll bar put on top of their tractor for about a third of the price. The rebate program pays 70% of the cost of installing a roll bar over the seat of a tractor.
Since 1986 all tractors sold have roll bars, but Matt Myers, of the Extension Service, explained in Vermont there are still a lot of old tractors in service that are missing the valuable safety feature.
LEDC has stepped up to make sure there is money available for ROPS for Lamoille County tractors, (a practice VT Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross complimented LEDC on recently at GMTCC)
but Myers said, their funds have to be designated for Lamoille County, so the Extension Service is trying to raise money for the rest of the state.
Currently there is a waiting list of about 35 tractors for the program. They are hoping to raise $23,100 to clear up that waiting list.
A kickoff celebration was held at Pete’s Equipment Sales and Rentals on Thursday, November 8. Pete’s Equipment and Rock Art Brewery were honored for donating the whole $660 amount to fund a ROPS system.
In order to raise the funds, the Extension Service is using the social media system of “crowdfunding” to raise the money. Crowd funding involves a collective effort by individuals to fund another’s initiatives. The website, HYPERLINK “http://www.indiegogo.com/”www.indiegogo.com, creates sites for such initiatives where people can donate money and receive “perks” (gifts) based on the amount of money of their contribution. They will be accepting donations through December 10 through the indiegogo site.
Local businesses like Rock Art Brewery, Applecheek Farm and VT Fleece Company have offered some of the perks for donations. A complete list can be found at HYPERLINK “http://www.indigogo.com/vtfarmer”www.indigogo.com/vtfarmer.
Also on the website is a touching story highlighting the tragic death of Paul Carriere, of Johnson. Paul died 17 years in a tractor rollover accident on his family farm on Collins Hill in Johnson. The making of the video was Paul’s daughter, Jody’s, first trip back to the area of the accident since that fateful day. As part of the kickoff of the fundraising campaign, rollbars were added to a tractor owned by Paul’s friends (and the man who found Paul after the accident) John and Rita Lehouillier, also of Johnson.
Tractor roll bars are considered 99% effective in preventing the deaths of people in roll over tractor accidents. To date, Myers said, there has not been a documented death involving a farmer who was wearing a seatbelt and operating a tractor fitted with roll bars in such an accident. He said tractor accidents are the leading cause of accidental deaths for farmers and seven-out-of-ten farms where a fatality has occurred go out of business within a year.
Michelle Couture, of Pete’s Equipment, said they have already installed 27 ROPS systems this year from Pennsylvania, New York and New Hampshire as well as Vermont.
For more information about call 1-877-ROPS-R4U or visit their website, HYPERLINK “http://www.ropsr4u.com/”www.ropsr4u.com.