From the New York Center of Agricultural Medicine and Health:
A new fund to help keep farmers safe on the farm was announced Dec. 14 in Saratoga Springs.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York Farm Bureau and New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health joined together at Turning Point Farm to announce the establishment of the John May Safety Fund to enhance safety on the farm.
“We’re excited to integrate this program into the portfolio of health and safety services we offer to the agricultural community,” said New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health Director Dr. Julie Sorensen. “The John May Safety Fund fills a gap in services to small farms, where slim profit margins often make it difficult to do more than what is needed to keep the farm running every day”.
The Safety Fund set up by NYCAMH honors the organization’s co-founder and long-time director Dr. John May and will assist New York farmers who need financial help improving safety on their farms. As the first program of its kind in New York state, this cost-sharing program will allow farmers to make lifesaving safety upgrades.
NYCAMH offers safety inspections on farms throughout the state, but sometimes farmers do not have the money to make recommended changes. This is especially true today on dairy farms as the price farmers receive for their milk has plummeted in the last year.
National Safety Council statistics show agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the country in terms of work-related fatality rates.
Agriculture had the highest such rate two years ago, at 23.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. The work-related rate for all U.S. industries for 2013 was 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
NYCAMH reported 22 farm fatalities in New York state in 2014.
“With the continued growth of the agricultural industry and our efforts to encourage the next generation of farmers, it’s even more important than ever that we support farm safety programs like the John May Safety Fund,” state Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said. “It is our hope that this grant fund administered by NYCAMH will bring attention to the importance of much needed safety projects and upgrades, and we encourage the agricultural community to take advantage of these newly available resources.”
The new program will become available beginning in January to the state’s farmers who meet the application guidelines. The program will be geared towards smaller farms with fewer than 400 animals.
Applications to the program may be submitted at any time and may be obtained by calling NYCAMH at (800) 343-7527 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The number of awards and the award amount will be determined by NYCAMH on a first-come, first-served basis.
“NYCAMH provides an essential service for farms across New York. The efforts to improve safety and working conditions for both farmers and their employees has, no doubt, saved lives and reduced the number of injuries," said Steve Ammerman, New York Farm Bureau manager of public affairs.
"New York Farm Bureau is a strong supporter of NYCAMH’s work and is hopeful our members will take advantage of the new grant program to make farms in this state even better places to work,” he said.
Since it’s founding in the early 1980s, NYCAMH has established a farmers’ clinic to help diagnose and treat farm-related injuries and illnesses, developed a NYS ROPS (Rollover Protective Structure) Rebate Program that has retrofitted more than 1,400 tractors, and performed hundreds of on-farm safety trainings to thousands of farm workers.
Dr. May co-founded and directed NYCAMH from the early ‘80s through 2015 and his work in promoting safety measures has given him a national reputation in his field. Even as he prepares to retire, Dr. May receives glowing remarks on his work within this industry.
“Dr. May has become an icon in the field of agricultural health and safety and is nationally recognized for his dedication and passion for improving the health and safety of farmers,” said Dr. Sorenson, who is taking over daily responsibilities at NYCAMH.
“Turning Point Dairy strives for a safe environment on the farm. This is not an easy task,” said Marty Hanehan, co-owner of Turning Point Dairy in Saratoga Springs where the announcement was made.
“With NYCAMH and the help they have offered our farm, we have become a more safety conscious farm. NYCAMH has also helped us with our OSHA training and compliance. We wish to thank NYCAMH and their staff and hope they can continue to offer this invaluable service.”
NYCAMH was established in the early 1980s by Dr. John May and Dr. David Pratt, pulmonologists at The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, Otsego County.
Initially known as the Bassett Farm and Safety Health Project, it officially was designated the New York Center for Agriculture and Medicine in 1988 with a mission of enhancing agricultural and rural health by preventing and treating occupational injury and illness.
For more information, visit www.nycamh.org.