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LA CROSSE

Tractor overturns are the leading cause of farm-related deaths. That's why it's so important that each tractor have a rollover protective structure (ROPS).

The National Farm Medicine Center will give away a free ROPS during the Midwest Farm Show, Jan. 13-14, at the La Crosse Center, La Crosse, WI. Just register at the National Farm Medicine Center booth.

Everyone who registers for the drawing will automatically be enrolled in the Farm Center's Wisconsin ROPS Rebate Program, which reimburses owners up to 70 percent (maximum of $865) toward the total cost of purchasing, shipping and installing individual ROPS. Enrollees will be mailed retrofit options and costs for their particular tractor.

A ROPS is an operator compartment structure (usually cab or rollbar) intended to protect farmers from injuries caused by overturns. More than half the tractors in Wisconsin do not have this protection. A ROPS, when used with a seatbelt, is 99 percent effective in preventing injury or death in the event of an overturn.

Wisconsin tractor owners can also apply for a ROPS via the hotline, 1-877-767-7748 (1-877-ROPSR4U), or the Web site, www.ropsr4u.com. Either way, the owner provides basic information about his or her farm and tractors, and program staff do the leg work.

Nearly 130 ROPS have been installed in Wisconsin during the first three years of the rebate program, made possible through philanthropic support from the Auction of Champions. This three-minute video explains the ROPS program, http://www3.marshfieldclinic.org/nfmc/?page=nfmc_resources_rops_rebate.

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