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Walz announces farm safety funding proposal

MARSHALL — When it comes to workplace safety, there’s an important need that’s not being met in Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz said. At least 10 people have died in farming accidents since June 2019.

“The tragedies we’ve seen over the last year or so have highlighted the need” for better farm safety measures, Walz said.

On Tuesday, Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan announced a $250,000 funding proposal that would help Minnesotans cover the cost of installing farm safety equipment.

“Too many Minnesota families have lost loved ones to preventable farming accidents,” Walz said. “That’s why I’m proposing new funding for safety measures like tractor rollover protection and grain bin safety equipment. We need to make sure all Minnesota farmers have access to these resources so they can work safely and prevent future tragedies.”

The funding proposal would have three main parts, Walz announced Tuesday. The proposal would relaunch Minnesota’s tractor rollover protection grant program, which reimburses farmers for putting rollover protective structures on tractors. It would also create a cost-sharing or reimbursement program for farmers who invest in grain bin safety equipment, and start a farm safety outreach campaign.

“Sometimes, it’s a simple guard over that PTO (power take -off) or that auger,” Walz said.

“We certainly want to move toward zero accidents, and zero deaths,” Walz said in a Tuesday press call. He said the safety campaign’s early focus would likely be on grain bin safety, but going forward would include equipment rollovers and other farming accidents.

Walz also voiced support for Landon’s Law, a pair of farm safety bills currently going through the Minnesota Legislature. The bills are named for 18-year-old Landon Gran, who died in a grain bin accident near St. Peter last year. Those bills would provide $500,000 for grain bin safety and $250,000 for education efforts.

The Grans are a family in grief, Walz said, but they are working to change safety policy.

While only about 2% of Minnesota’s workforce is in farming, agriculture accounted for more than 30% of workplace deaths in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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