TTFC funds expansion of AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm programs

Through a recent grant to the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc., the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (TTFC) is providing funds to expand and continue the work of the AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm programs in North Carolina. The expanded support was announced November 4 during the state Extension conference at N.C. State University.

Representing the TTFC were William Upchurch, executive director, and Susan Barnes, commission board member. They presented a $300,000 check for the AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm expansion to the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, N.C. State University, Cooperative Extension and partners at the N.C. Agromedicine Institute. Dr. Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. Joe Zublena, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, accepted.

“Thanks to the overwhelming support of farmers in our state, we’re here today to announce a grant for the expansion of the AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm programs in North Carolina,” Barnes said.

She then explained that these programs started as pilot projects in Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties in 2009 with a three-year Tobacco Trust Fund Commission grant of $500,000.

Among those leading the efforts to establish the AgriSafe Network of North Carolina and the Certified Safe Farm program were Dr. Greg Cope, CALS professor and campus coordinator for agromedicine at N. C. State; Robin Tutor-Marcom, director of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, a partnership of East Carolina, N.C. State and North Carolina A&T State universities; and Dr. Ed Jones of Cooperative Extension. The program was initially offered in the three pilot counties, where Extension agents, specially trained in safety, conducted 120 on-farm safety reviews, as part of the Certified Safe Farm program. During these one-on-one reviews, farmers received tailored recommendations for safety improvements on their farms. AgriSafe nurses, trained through the N.C. Agromedicine Institute’s Agricultural Medicine course, provide health screenings, assistance with personal protective equipment and health care referrals to farmers.

“AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm are saving lives, improving health, and lowering costs on North Carolina farms. They are protecting agriculture’s most important asset, our people,” Barnes said. “We are proud that our state, through its strength in Extension and agromedicine, is leading the way in its commitment to health and safety in agriculture. This new funding will allow even more farmers, in more counties, to benefit from these programs.”

The expansion will take the program from the three pilot counties to 18 more counties, including Alexander, Anson, Ashe, Craven, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Hoke, Randolph, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly, Union, Vance, Warren, Watauga and Wilson.

Zublena thanked the TTFC for the award and the commission’s confidence in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension and the AgriSafe and Certified Safe Farm project team.

Also in attendance at the check presentation were, from Certified Safe Farm, Julia Storm, Tim Britton, Dr. Catherine LePrevost and Dr. Ernest Hodgson; from AgriSafe, Robin Tutor-Marcom and Barbara Gallagher; from the N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Kathy Kennel; and representatives of the 18 expansion counties.

“Our award-winning team of agriculture agents in Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties and agromedicine partners were successful in adapting this research-based program to North Carolina agriculture,” Zublena said. “We know our expansion counties will build on that success and continue to make a difference for farmers, families and workers in agricultural communities throughout the state.” – Terri Leith

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