The National ROPS Rebate Program: A Lifesaving Initiative Just for Farmers
By Pam Tinc, Senior Research Coordinator
Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
In June 2010, New York Farm Bureau member David Huse was returning home after a day of mowing hay on a friend’s farm when he was struck by an oncoming car that hit his tractor and flipped the tractor on top of him. David’s death was a tremendous blow to friends, family and business partners, as well as to the larger agricultural community, who lost a passionate and outspoken advocate for sustainable farming in New York. David’s neighbor and business partner, Judy Pangman, wrote the following in a heartfelt letter to her local legislator in response to this tragedy:
“For farmers, everyday brings a new challenge. Getting to and from our fields safely should not be our most difficult and deadly challenge. We need to make farming safer to prevent the loss of our friends, children and other family members, and employees in such senseless accidents and request your assistance and support. We miss David terribly every day. Please help us make farming safer for everyone.”
Tractors are an essential piece of farming equipment, but they can also be one of the most dangerous. Studies have shown that the leading cause of death and permanently crippling injuries on a farm is due to tractor rollovers, and the Northeast has the highest rate of overturn fatalities in the nation. In the event of a rollover, the use of a rollover protective structure (ROPS) and a seatbelt reduces the risk of injury by 99 percent. Wearing a seatbelt on a ROPS protected tractor will keep you within the “zone of safety” in the event of an overturn. While using a seatbelt with your ROPS will give you complete protection, the rollbar alone still greatly increases your chance of survival.
Though newer tractors come equipped with ROPS and retrofit ROPS kits are commercially available for many older tractors, nearly half of tractors on US farms remain unprotected. For many farmers, the cost and time required to retrofit a tractor are low priority, given the many other items needing attention on the farm. To make it easier for farmers like you to retrofit their tractors and keep themselves, and their family, safe, we created the ROPS Rebate Program more than ten years ago.
You may have heard about, or participated in, the ROPS Rebate Program. Since 2006, we’ve retrofitted over 2,300 tractors in seven states, and more farmers are calling every day to sign up. The Program rebates farmers approximately 70% of the cost of retrofitting a tractor, including the ROPS kit, shipping, and installation (if applicable).
Now, we are expanding! Over the last several years, we’ve joined forces with manufacturers, insurance companies, agricultural organizations, health and safety organizations, farmers and their families, and many others to form the National Tractor Safety Coalition. This group has worked together to create The National ROPS Rebate Program, which launched on June 28th. This is the same great program we’ve always had, but it’s now accessible to farmers across the country, thanks to our donors.
So, how does the Program work?
We know you’re busy, so we’ve worked hard to ensure that the National ROPS Rebate Program is simple and hassle free. If you’re interested in getting a new ROPS for that old tractor, here’s what you need to do:
- Call us at 877-ROPS-r4u (877-767-7748) or apply online at www.ROPSr4u.com.
- We’ll send you information about the kits that are available for your tractor, as well as the cost, and where to purchase.
- If you decide to participate, give us a call for preapproval.
- Once you’ve gotten the go-ahead from us, order your ROPS within 10 days, and give us a call back with the dealer estimates for the kit, shipping, and installation (if applicable).
- When your ROPS is installed, send us proof of installation (before and after photos for self-installers, or an invoice from your dealership if they installed it), as well as all final invoices.
- We’ll send you a rebate check within 30 days.
- Sit back and enjoy knowing that you’ve taken an important step toward keeping yourself, and others, safe on your farm!
What if I’ve already signed up and am on a waitlist?
Over the last several years, many farmers interested in retrofitting their tractors have signed up for the program, and have been added to a waitlist due to limited funding in their state. Thanks to a mixture of state funding and private donors, we are now starting to move through the waitlist and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Is it really worth signing up for the National ROPS Rebate Program?
Through annual follow up surveys with program participants, 19 farmers have reported experiencing an overturn with their newly retrofitted tractors and 197 farmers reported experiencing a close call (i.e., wheels coming off the ground, sliding down a hill, etc.). Each farmer escaped without serious injury and returned home to their families to continue farming. I’d say that’s a good reason to sign up today.
What can I do to help ensure that the National ROPS Rebate Program sticks around?
Please share the information with your friends and neighbors who farm; encourage them to sign up. You can also share Program information with your local Farm Bureau, and ask them to make the National ROPS Rebate Program a priority. In New York, Farm Bureau is instrumental in securing funding each year. Finally, anyone who is interested in donating to the National ROPS Rebate Program can visit https://www.ropsr4u.com/donate.php to do so.
Those interested in signing up for or getting more information about the National ROPS Rebate Program may call toll free 1-877-ROPS-R4U (1-877-767-7748) or visit www.ropsr4u.com.