Northern Vermont's Lamoille County has high hopes to become the first county in the United States where every farmer has tractor rollover protection. Those hopes got a huge lift recently with Lamoille Economic Development Corporation's pledge of $140,000 to achieve that goal.
LEDC pledged the funds to University of Vermont Extension's Vermont Rebates for Roll Bars Program. The statewide program provides a 70% rebate, up to $765, to any Vermont farmer who wants to retrofit an old tractor with a rollover protection kit.
The rollover protection structures (ROPS) includes a roll bar and seatbelt. It's 99% effective in protecting tractor drivers from fatal rollovers.
LEDC's contribution is earmarked for rebates for the more than 200 Lamoille County farmers eligible to register for the program. "Agriculture is the dominant industry in Lamoille County with a total of 357 farms. More than half of them don't have ROPS on their tractors," says Matt Myers, program coordinator.
ROPS decision is a 'no-brainer'
"Seven out of 10 farms where a fatal rollover occurs are out of business in one year," notes Myers. "UVM Extension and LEDC hope to sustain the viability of these farms by making sure every farm in the county has the opportunity to install a roll bar and seatbelt kit on at least one tractor to use on the more dangerous projects."
Chuck Hogan, LEDC board member of the not-for-profit corporation, adds, "If you can provide, on average, a $660 rebate to a farmer, and that investment prevents a fatal rollover that costs the family and society at least $910,000, it's a no brainer."
Although the rollover protection program is targeted to farmers, any tractor owner in Vermont is eligible for the rebate. To find out what roll bar kits are available for their particular tractor, where to purchase and the cost before and after the 70% rebate, tractor owners can call the toll-free hotline at (877) 767-7748.
To date, more than 200 individuals across Vermont have registered for the rebate program. More than 70 already have installed rollover protection on their tractors.
LEDC's support will accelerate this process greatly in Lamoille County.
For more information, contact Myers at (802) 888-4972, ext. 404, or (866) 260-5603 (Vermont calls only) or by e-mail at [email protected].
The ROPS retrofit and rebate program is also available in New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania. For more details, click on www.ropsr4u.com .