More than 100 local farmers concerned about tractor safety recently enrolled in Marshfield Clinic's National Farm Medicine Center's Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) Rebate Program.
ROPS refers to a tractor cab or roll bar intended to protect farmers from injuries caused when tractors overturn. Such accidents are the leading cause of death on farms, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Tractors manufactured in the United States since 1985 are equipped with ROPS, but more than half of all tractors in use in Wisconsin don't have this protection because of the long working life of the machines, according to the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC).
NFMC enrolled 110 farmers who registered 183 tractors in the NFMC's rebate program during the Marshfield Farm Show, Feb. 20-21, at the Shoppes at Wood Ridge Mall in Marshfield. The ROPS Rebate Program will provide 70 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing the ROPS up to a total of $865.
"When used with a seatbelt, ROPS are 99 percent effective in preventing injury and death in the event a tractor overturns," said Barbara Marlenga, a research scientist at NFMC. "Even if the seatbelt is not used, ROPS are 70 percent effective."
NFMC gave away two ROPS during the farm show. Jim Beaver of Loyal won a Laurin rigid ROPS system, valued at more than $1,200, for his 1977 Ford 7700. Beaver farms 127 acres of cropland and this will be the first of five tractors in Beaver's fleet to have a roll bar.
Wilmer Landwehr of Stratford won a Hercules rigid ROPS system, valued at $1,185, for his 1965 John Deere 2010. This will be the first of three tractors on Landwehr's 63-acre farm to be retrofitted with the device.
This program is funded by donations through the Auction of Champions, an annual fundraiser for farm health and safety in Marshfield.
The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education in more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.