Successful Farm Safety Days in South America

The Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF) and Agrium have taken a lead role in farm safety education. In South America, Agrium’s Agroservicios Pampeanos helps keep kids safe.

Farming can be a dangerous job, no matter where you live in the world.

And in many cases, farm safety incidents and accidents are preventable, had simple safety precautions taken place.

Education is the key, and Agrium Inc., is keenly aware of the important role farm safety plays in the daily lives of the farmers they serve and in the agriculture industry in which they participate. So to help others learn the importance of farm safety around the world, they looked to a leader in farm safety programming: the Progressive Agriculture Foundation (PAF).

PAF has taken a lead role in farm safety education. Their one-day Farm Safety Day Camp® program teaches children safety and health lessons that can keep them and those around them safe and healthy on a farm, on a ranch or at home. The genesis for the program began in the pages of a September 1990 issue of Progressive Farmer magazine when a father wrote of the heartbreaking loss of his son in a horrific, needless farm accident,"Just Say No"

Nearly 100 farm fatalities were profiled that month—many of whom were children—and in case after case, the article showed that these tragedies could have been prevented if basic safety precautions had been taken. In 1995 the magazine staff created a farm safety day camp, patterned after similar government farm safety day camps. By 2002, the program had grown significantly and became a stand-alone program, with the ownership shifting to the Progressive Farmer Foundation. In 2006 the name was officially changed to the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program.

Agrium is now in its 11th year as a premier sponsor of that Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® and recently piloted the North American program in Argentina and Uruguay. It is now licensed for its use in three South American countries; Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. But for the program to be effective, it needed the proper adjustments to fit the cultural needs and differences.

Maria Golletti, CSR Coordinator with Agroservicios Pampeanos (ASP), Agrium’s Retail business in Argentina, has been working to ensure the materials and lessons are translated accurately. “We started our farm safety program at the end of 2010 at two farm centers, located at América and Coronel Suarez, both in Buenos Aires province. The feedback from all our participants (children, teachers, fireman, doctors) was so good that we knew we had to expand it to others farm centers across Argentina,” says Golletti.

“The event gives the children valuable tools that they can use in their daily lives,” says Golletti, explaining that the farm safety day teaches them how to be safe at home, at school, on the street, and obviously, on the farm.

Golletti says the program is modeled after the successful PAF program in North America. ASP’s Safety days host up to 100 students per event and are customized to focus on the areas of greatest safety concern for the region. Participants are divided into smaller groups of 10 to 12 children that focus on fire safety, first aid, grain safety, chemical safety, road safety and other risks that can be found on the farm.

“We make the stations very dynamic, hands-on and fun for the children to learn about farm safety, thanks to the help of other professionals from our community,” says Golletti. At the end of the day the children get a tour of the farm centre, a meal and a t-shirt and bag filled with farm safety information.

In just two short years, the program has grown from two ASP farm centres to 28 now participating in the Farm Safety Day Camps®. By the end of 2013, 1,350 students will have taken part in the program.

Rose Lecky, manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at Agrium, is excited at the expansion of the program in South America. “As a global company, there are opportunities to expand effective programs worldwide. This endeavor aligns perfectly with Agrium’s mission as well as PAF’s. Through this agreement, our goal is to reach more children, families and rural communities to prevent injuries and save lives on farms and ranches.”

For more information about PAF and to support the cause, go to progressiveag.org

Pictured above: El Arbolito Farmcenter Safety Day, First aid station with a CPR demonstration.

Colonia Hinojo Farmcenter Safety Day: Grain safety station and grain gravity wagon demonstration.