Farm Credit of the Virginias has funded a mini-grant program that will help West Virginia farmers fix hazards that put their children at risk of injury or death.
The Farm Credit Youth Safe Farm Mini-Grant Program will provide grants to farmers whose families are participating in WVU Extension Service’s Youth Safe Farm program. The mini-grants will be awarded through 2013.
“Controlling hazards by fixing equipment and structures on farms can prevent serious injuries to farm children,” said Laura Staley, Farm Credit’s marketing manager.
The Youth Safe Farm program, which received $221,000 of funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, began recruiting families in late 2009. Forty-two farm families are participating in the program, whose aim is to help youths and families avoid farm related accidents by learning to avoid, correct, or eliminate hazards that lead to injuries and death on farms.
Farmers who complete the eight community-meeting program, conduct risk identification on their farms, and correct hazards during the two-year period will be designated “WVU Youth Safe Farm Families.” Each designated family will receive an official plaque for outdoor mounting.
Paul Becker, WVU Safety and Health Extension specialist, said the funding will enhance the Youth Safe Farm program by providing real dollars to help fix problems that farmers have found on their property through participating in the program.
“We are not only helping farmers to identify the problems on their farms, but now, thanks to Farm Credit, we are able to help them actually find solutions and pay to get them fixed,” Becker said.
Because most West Virginia farms are family-owned and operated and function as only part-time operations, Staley said the need is even greater for youths to participate in the daily activities to keep the farm viable.
“We want to ensure that the next generation of West Virginia farmers are equipped with the knowledge and desire to keep agriculture safe, strong and prosperous,” she said.
Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over a billion dollars in financing to more than 9,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners in 96 counties in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Farm Credit makes loans for home purchase and construction, land and farm purchases, equipment, farming expenses, horse and livestock purchases. Other financial services available through Farm Credit are credit life insurance, crop insurance and equipment leasing programs.
Farm Credit of the Virginias works closely with youths throughout the state by sponsoring and hosting youth agricultural programs. Many of Farm Credit’s employees are also actively involved with their local 4-H and FFA programs, Staley said.
“The farm youth of today are our future,” Staley said. “Safe kids, safe farms and a safe supply of locally grown agricultural products lead to a better life in West Virginia for the farm families and the entire state.”
The Farm Credit System is a national network of lending institutions that collectively provide a wide range of financial and lending services to rural America. Farm Credit institutions are cooperatives, capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural businesses that borrow from them. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending and expert financial services.
WVU Extension Service provides educational programs in all 55 counties in West Virginia.
Farm Credit’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.