Wisconsin program offers rebates on ROPS retrofits

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A self-described “safety geek,” Dunn County farmer Peter Kilde has not allowed his daughters to drive his Yanmar 1700 BD tractor.

“It’s a great little tractor, and very well made,” Kilde said. “But it’s got a narrow wheelbase and there is a lot of topography on our farm. I thought the rollover hazard was too high.”

Thanks, however, to a new rollbar installed through the Wisconsin Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) Rebate Program, daughters Marie (24) and Katherine (17) will be joining Kilde as tractor operators on 77-acre Kildegaard Farm, where the family raises grass-fed beef and free-range chicken.

“Now that the ROPS system is in place, I look forward to training my daughters in the safe operation of the tractor and the implements that I use on the farm," Kilde said. “I am a happy camper.”

Kilde won the ROPS through a drawing this past winter at GrassWorks Grazing Conference, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells. The National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC), part of Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, promoted its ROPS program at the conference with an exhibit table and display.

“Realistically, a farmer is probably not going to wake up and say, ‘you know, I really ought to put a ROPS on that tractor today,’” Kilde said. “But the display and the rebate offer got my attention. To get it completely free was a great bonus.”

Kilde had the retrofit done at Tractor Central in Menomonie, Wis. “They were very helpful. We had that delayed spring and as soon as it worked for me, they came and got the tractor.”

Kilde, 67, is executive director of West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency (West CAP), established in 1965 as an outgrowth of the federal Economic Opportunity Act. West CAP is headquartered in Glenwood City, St. Croix County, and helps low-income families. A third daughter, Ingrid, 20, attends college in St. Paul, Minn.

Tractor overturns are the leading cause of farm-related deaths in the U.S. That’s why it’s so important that each tractor have a ROPS. The Wisconsin ROPS Rebate Program reimburses up to 70 percent (maximum of $865) toward the total cost of purchasing, shipping and installing individual ROPS. The National Farm Medicine Center established the program in 2013 with philanthropic support from the Auction of Champions, and has installed nearly 220 ROPS. All farmers are eligible for the program. Call 1-877-767-7748 (1-877-ROPSR4U), or go to www.ropsr4u.com.

“We’re telling farmers. ‘Retrofit for yourself, your family and your employees,’” said Barbara Marlenga, Ph.D., National Farm Medicine Center scientist and ROPS program director. “The call is quick and easy.” 

A ROPS, when used with a seatbelt, is 99 percent effective in preventing injury or death in the event of an overturn.

Register to win a free ROPS at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, July 10-12, in Marshfield. Visit the National Farm Medicine Center Farm Safety and Rescue Area, which will feature two ROPS demonstrations: a tractor rollover rescue (conducted by Pittsville Fire Department) and a tractor rollover simulator (provided by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture).

NFMC will be registering farmers for rebates all three days, and will draw on the final day for one free retrofit. Why retrofit? This 90-second NFMC video  tells the realistic story of a teenage tractor operator whose tractor tips over during haying.

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