Magee Recognizes Retrofitting of 1,000th Tractor

 

Assemblyman Bill Magee, a staunch supporter of agriculture and the ROPS program, visited Joe Armstrong, a goat and sheep farmer from the Schenectady area, and congratulated him on outfitting his tractor with a rollover protective structure. Armstrong’s 1973 Ford 2000 was the 1000th tractor outfitted with rollover protection in New York State through NYCAMH’s ROPS rebate program. Pictured from left are Barbara Bayes, ROPS program coordinator; Magee, Joe Armstrong and Dr. John May, NYCAMH director.

(Town of Nelson, NY) “I have a grandson who does a lot of haying and sometimes borrows my equipment; I want to do what I can to protect him and anybody else that might drive the tractor,” said Joe Armstrong, a Schenectady-area farmer outfitted his 1973 Ford 2000 this spring with a rollover protective structure (ROPS), becoming the 1,000th tractor to be retrofitted with rollover protection statewide through the ROPS rebate program offered by the New York Center for Agricultural and Medicine and Health of Cooperstown.

Tractor rollovers are a significant cause of injury and death to farmers and their family members. In fact, rollover fatality rates in the Northeast are the highest in the country. Studies have shown that the use of a roll bar in combination with a seatbelt could prevent virtually all of these tractor rollover deaths, yet half the tractors in New York state are unprotected.

So six years ago, NYCAMH, a program of Bassett Healthcare Network, launched the ROPS rebate campaign to reduce the number of deaths on the farm due to tractor overturns by making it easier for farmers to retrofit older tractors with a rollover protective structure.  NYCAMH refunds farmers 70 percent, up to $865, of the cost of installing a roll bar and seatbelt on a tractor.

The ROPS program has been so successful in New York that it has since expanded to New Hampshire, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Armstrong, a goat and sheep farmer, says the 125 acres he owns in the Capital Region consists of a lot of hilly terrain, which increases the risk of a rollover. He recalls a young teenager who lost his life in the 1970s after the tractor he was driving flipped over and landed on him. Another neighbor was lucky to walk away unharmed when the tractor he was driving rolled down an embankment.

“I have a Massey Ferguson I hope to retrofit with a roll bar and seat belt, too,” Armstrong said.

The Ford tractor he installed the ROPS on is used for pulling a double rake during hay season.

“Who knows? It may not benefit me, but someday it may very well benefit someone else who uses the tractor,” he said.

The ROPS rebate program could not enjoy the success it has without the critical support of the New York State Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committees, who this year led the successful effort to restore $100,000 in funding for the ROPS program in the state budget.

“Farmers are the backbone of our economy and helping them practice safe farming is in all of our best interests,” said Assemblyman Bill Magee, chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee. “I hope New York’s farmers continue to take advantage of NYCAMH’s ROPS rebate program.”

ROPS is just one of many life-saving programs sponsored by NYCAMH. For nearly 25 years, the organization has worked with New York farmers to decrease the number of farmers killed and injured on the job, address worksite hazards, prevent costly injuries and reduce Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.

For more information or to register for the ROPS rebate program, call (877) 767-7748.

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