New, safer look for an old tractor courtesy of ROPS Rebate Program

National Farm Medicine Center
Glen Wendt (middle), a dairy farmer from Merrill, won the drawing for a free Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS) at 2018 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. He retrofit this International 766. With Glen is his wife, Brenda, and brother, Jack.

Glen Wendt, a dairy farmer from Merrill, Wis., feels as if he has a brand new tractor, even though it’s four decades old.

“It looks like it just rolled out of the factory,” said Wendt, admiring the new paint job on his International 766, and, importantly, the newly-installed Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS).

Best of all, the ROPS -- a roll bar -- didn’t cost Wendt a dime.

The recently-completed ROPS retrofit is the result of Wendt winning a drawing last summer at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, where McMillan Warner Mutual Insurance Company teamed with the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, to promote the Wisconsin ROPS Rebate Program.

Longtime ROPS Rebate Program partner Cherokee Garage, in Colby, did the retrofit. While Wendt had it in the shop, he paid for a paint job for the tractor he calls his “baby.”

“I have to admit, the roll bar looks better than I thought it would,” Wendt said. “Most of all, I feel more secure now. We’ve got some fields that are pretty hilly.”

Farmers don’t have to win a ROPS to get a big rebate. The National Farm Medicine Center program is open to any Wisconsin farmer, and reimburses owners up to 70 percent (maximum of $865) toward the total cost of purchasing, shipping and installing individual ROPS. McMillan Warner policyholders have the added benefit of receiving an additional $350 toward the retrofit. Tractor owners can apply for the program via the ROPS hotline, 1-877-767-7748 (1-877-ROPSR4U), or the website,

“Tractor overturns are one of the leading causes of farm-related deaths,” said Scott Krum, CEO of McMillan Warner. “We feel strongly that each tractor should have a ROPS, and we are excited to be part of this retrofit program.”

The National Farm Medicine Center began offering rebates in 2013 with philanthropic support from the Auction of Champions. More than 250 ROPS have been installed.

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

A 90-second whiteboard video urges farmers to “make the call now” to the hotline. The video tells the realistic story of a teenage operator whose tractor tips over during haying.