CHS, a national agribusiness, announced Wednesday that it has committed $3 million to support grants and educational programs focused on keeping farmers safe on the job.
The investment includes $1 million for a competitive grants program supporting rural safety projects and $2 million to support safety programs with five partner organizations:
• Agricultural Health and Safety Council, addressing emerging occupational safety and health issues affecting U.S. agriculture;
• AgriSafe Network, helping train a national workforce of rural health providers and developing a new college health program for agricultural students;
• GEAPS Foundation, in support of Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) working in conjunction with Kansas State University on distance learning, credentialing and other safe grain handling educational efforts;
• National AgrAbility, working in conjunction with Purdue University on agricultural education and enhancing quality of life for farmers, ranchers and other ag workers affected by disabling conditions, and
• Propane and Education Research Council, advancing the safe use of propane on the farm through training and research.
"We have new technologies and safety risks to address plus a growing workforce to train," CHS CEO Carl Casale said during the program's announcement at the 2013 North American Agricultural Safety Summit. "That's why CHS is investing in this multi-million-dollar initiative – focused on college students and adults – to help keep our next generation of agricultural leaders safe."
Details of the competitive grants program will be announced in early 2014, the company said. Funding for the initiative comes from both the CHS corporate giving program and the independent CHS Foundation.
"We chose to partner with these five forward-thinking organizations because of their strong safety visions and accomplishments," Casale said. "Working together, we are also hoping to secure matching funds to further leverage our investment and efforts."
During his remarks at the summit, Casale said farmers and ranchers are being called on to produce more and do it faster, and sometimes that can mean more risks.
"In agriculture … we work in an industry with inherent risks. And when we get busy, it can be easy to take a chance 'just this once.' What we do must be done safely – every time," he said.
Casale said CHS' company policies also reflect a safety component. The policies include conducting a safety culture survey, establishing safety plans for all businesses, opening all meetings with a safety message, sending safety reminders to employees at their homes, and incorporating safety goals into incentive pay for its leaders.