Ag and Extension Briefs

Free respirator fit testing and train-the-trainer workshops

Respirators are necessary for using certain pesticides safely, but we lack resources in Minnesota to help farmers and pesticide applicators choose the right respirator, as well as fit testing and medical evaluation resources. In these free workshops, we will train rural healthcare providers, co-op health and safety managers, and others to provide fit testing and other respirator support across the state. Farmers and applicators may also sign up for a free 45-minute respirator fit test.

Workshops will include: Hands-on fit test demos, Interactive sessions on respirator selection and current respirator issues in agricultural areas and Practice time with supervision from occupational safety experts.

Locations and dates include: Marshall, April 3, MERIT Center, 1001 W. Erie Road.

Workshop and fit test registration: z.umn.edu/respiratorworkshops. Note: before getting fit tested, participants must have a medical evaluation. Evaluations can be completed at respexam.com. We cannot legally fit test you without medical clearance.

Funding for workshops has been provided by the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health.

Questions: Contact Natalie Hoidal, Extension educator with Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education. hoida016@umn.edu.

Illinois agriculture director focusing on rural development

MATTOON, Ill. (AP) — Illinois’ new agriculture director says rural economic development and increasing broadband access are among his top priorities.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan spoke Monday to Rotary Club members in Mattoon. The farmer and former Democratic state senator from Rushville has had the position for about two months. He was appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The Mattoon Journal-Gazette reports that Sullivan said he will advocate for the new state budget to include money to help improve rural broadband service, which he calls “spotty at best.” He says money also is needed for “river, road and rail” improvements to help farmers move their crops to processors.

Sullivan also focused on creating jobs. He says he believes “agriculture is where the future is in regard to job creation.”

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