Driving up the steep hill to the 280-acre Webcrest Farm in Bovina, the eye scans the horizon of slopes and valleys.
“This is not Kansas,” said Dr. John May, director of New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), as he stood next to a 1962 John Deer 3010 tractor, with a roll bar.
That roll bar was the highlight of Thursday morning when Sen. James Seward announced that the 2013-14 state budget includes $100,000 to protect New York farmers through continuation of the New York Rollover Protection System (ROPS) Rebate Program, now in its seventh year.
Webcrest Farm owners, Ed and Donna Weber, participated in the ROPS program five years ago.
“After hearing about the ROPS program, I filled out and submitted the application for the rebate,” said Donna Weber. “This old tractor still runs fine, we use it all the time for cutting and pulling wagons, but it is top heavy and has a narrow base.”
In order to qualify for the rebate, a certified roll bar needed to be purchased. The rebate amounts to 70 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing rollover protection on a tractor, a savings of up to $865. Ed Weber was able to install the roll bar himself, along with the seat belt.
“A roll bar is a steel bar that reaches over the driver’s head,” explained Barbara Bayes, ROPS Program Coordinator, based in Cooperstown. “The bar is installed over the rear axle.”
All roll bars are tested. Different bars are used for different makes of tractors. If the tractor happens to tip and roll over, the bar will protect the driver from being crushed. Farmers interested in more information should call toll-free (877) 767-7748.
The event was also attended by 3 constituents of the Cooperstown Medical Transport team. As responders to farm accidents, the team members analyzed the roll bar equipment. “We want to know how the roll bar works so we can respond quickly to an accident,” said Mark Rossley, supervisor of the medical team. “It’s obvious that the drivers need to wear their seat belts in order for the roll bar to be effective.”
“Agriculture continues to be the No. 1 industry in New York even in tough times,” Seward said. “But farming can be dangerous, therefore it was crucial to keep the ROPS rebate program alive.”
Approximately 1,100 tractors have been retrofitted in the last seven years, he said.
“There have been 13 rollover incidents where lives were saved in that time due to the bars,” added Seward.