2018 USDA Budget Cuts Could Raise Injury Rates
The 2018 USDA budget shows a 20% cut in discretionary spending. On the top of the list of agricultural programs getting the axe are education programs. These programs help inform farmers and workers about dangers and help to prevent injuries. Cutting these programs could cause a rise in farm injury rates.
Few Farm Safety Programs Available
Not long ago, Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota and other big farming states offered a large sampling of various farm safety programs for youth and adults alike. Today, Minnesota offers tractor training in only two counties out of 87. These trainings are only accessible to high school students. There are zero farm safety programs for adults. Additionally, the position of farm safety advisor for Minnesota has been vacant since 2008. This isn’t just a Minnesota problem. Lack of funding eliminated the job of overseeing farm safety in many other big farming states.
Instead of offering safety programs with an officer to oversee the protection of farmers and farm workers, federal officials created 10 regional safety centers. The centers should find ways to prevent farm accidents. Plus, they can improve the health of agricultural workers. However, there have been repeated proposals to eliminate these centers, too. Federal reviews claim these sites fail to adequately monitor accidents and do not provide sufficient assistance to farmers.
This is because there is little funding. With their scant federal dollars, these centers try to focus resources on new research projects instead of assistance. One research project is antibiotic-resistant infections among swine veterinarians.
When the Minnesota Star Tribune inquired why centers are researching instead of teaching safety as they were created to do the director of the Iowa safety center, Fred Gerr, said: “In general, farmers died knowing quite well they are doing something that is potentially dangerous.”
2018 Brings More Farming Cuts
The new USDA 2018 budget will see more even more educational programs ending. Farmers need these programs to help educate the next generation of safe practices. The budget even slashes Agricultural Research Service by $360 million or 26%. This would mean closing the doors at 17 research centers.
We Help Farmers
If no one takes the time to inform farmers that many machines are manufactured with defects or are generally unsafe, how can anyone assume these farmers knew all along? Funding agricultural safety works.
Wisconsin has a $75,000 budget just for agricultural safety. Deaths in the state dropped 16% in the last decade. Farmers, there have the same agricultural hazards are other big farming states. One of their safety implementations is children under 16 must complete a safety course before legal operation of a tractor of other farm machines on a public road. Every year, 300 kids take the class. That is 300 kids who were potentially not injured.
If the government continues to defund safety programs, what will happen to the dedicated backbone of our country? Without farmers, the United States would not be the great country that it is. But, who is taking care of these dedicated individuals? How many have been hurt or injured and now do not have the resources to know what the next steps should be? The Farm Injury Resource Center will assist these farmers and farm workers during their difficult time. FIRC will provide confidential assistant 24 hours a day. Most of all, to let you know that if you or a loved one has been injured, it isn’t your fault.