HELENA — The Montana State Fund is highlighting safety in the agriculture industry and giving back to the community with a steer won at the Lewis and Clark County 4-H Fair auction.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH) agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries to work.
The dangers in agriculture can range from heavy machinery, chemicals, large animals, and even hazardous weather.
In 2019 410 farmers or farm workers died in the U.S., a rate of 19.4 per 100,000 workers. And each day around 100 agricultural workers will suffer a work-related injury that leads to lost work time.
Safety in the workplace is a message the State Fund wants to impart on young workers and future ag producers. Young people can be at higher risk for workplace injury.
"Youth and safety are particular area of focus in workers comp because youth are injured at more than twice the rate of older adults. So youth ages 15 to 19 have two times as many injuries as adults ages 25 and over," says Holly O'Dell, Montana State Fund's new president and CEO.
A 2014 report cited by NIOSH showed that 12,000 youth were injured on farms that year, one third of those injuries were directly related to farm work.
The 4-H purchase is part of ongoing efforts to by the Montana State Fund to encourage young people to be safe, from scholarships to donations to vocational programs in public schools.
"It's a win-win because students engage with learning about safety and what they'll need to know in their future careers and get the gear they need stay safe in high school," says O'Dell.
State Fund is also using the steer to give back to the community.
Representatives say half of the 1,380 lb. animal will be donated to the Helena Food Share to feed local families. Overall, the Montana State Fund paid just over $9,000 to purchase the beef and have it processed.
Montana State Fund representatives say they are exploring similar bids and purchases at other fairs across the state in the coming years.
The Montana State Fund also offers more than two dozen farm-related safety manuals on its agricultural safety webpage.