A program developed to help farms operate in healthier and safer ways has been awarded $500,000 over two years from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to both extend current program work and also to establish a new Certified Safe Farm program in the state. The grant was presented Oct. 12 at the Johnston County Agricultural Center in Smithfield, to the N.C. Agricultural Foundation (with a subcontract to East Carolina University).
Project partners are the Tri-County Community Health Council and the N.C. Cooperative Extension centers of Johnston, Duplin and Sampson Counties.
The programs are designed to produce lower health claims costs and safer farms.
"We believe this grant will have a major impact on farmers and their families," says William Upchurch, executive director of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. "The commission is proud to be a partner on this project, and we're excited to see how smarter and healthier lifestyles, in addition to safer farms, will benefit our farmers in many ways."
Initially, the Certified Safe program will be offered in Johnston, Duplin and Sampson counties. The goal is to eventually expand into the piedmont and western regions of the state.
"One of the best features of this program is that services are offered at locations and times convenient to very busy and hard-working farmers, family members and employees," says Robin Tutor, interim director of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute. "Health insurance is not required, and most services are provided at little or no cost."