CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
I-CASH Certified Safe Farms program moving ahead
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa pilot program that could lead
to insurance discounts or other types of financial rewards for farm families
is close to being implemented in northwest Iowa, according to UI agricultural
health and safety experts who initiated the project.
The Certified Safe Farm (CSF) Program is a voluntary, preventive approach
to rural health and safety. It is aimed at reducing injuries and illnesses
among farm families while reducing participants' medical and insurance
claim costs. Developed by farm safety experts at Iowa's Center for Agricultural
Safety and Health (I-CASH) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center,
the program has three main components: health screenings that identify
high risk conditions for farm families; on-farm safety reviews that identify
and correct farm safety hazards; and an educational exercise on farm safety
for participating families. If the pilot project is successful, families
whose farms are certified as safe could become eligible for health insurance
"The goal of the program is to ensure that farm families stay healthy
and reduce their risks of injuries through preventive screenings, removal
of safety hazards and farm safety education," says Kendall Thu, associate
director of I-CASH. "We need a program that is effective and takes
into account the time and financial constraints placed on farmers."
Data from the National Safety Council shows that agricultural workers
have the second highest fatality rate and the third highest disabling injury
rate out of all occupations in the United States. In Iowa alone, these
problems cost the state an estimated $100 million a year. "The costs
are manifested in insurance claims," Thu says.
A claims analysis conducted by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Nebraska for
the CSF Program indicated that the rate of health services for injuries
among people in rural areas was much higher than other groups. In addition,
hospital admission rates for respiratory diseases were higher among rural
Program leaders held a series of farmer focus groups across Iowa and
Nebraska last fall and winter to get farmers' input on the CSF concept.
The general response from farm families was positive, Thu says. "Farmers
gave us a number of ideas on how best to build such a program. We know
the program has to be voluntary and community-based with trained, local
service providers who have farm backgrounds."
Thu says 125 farm families in northwest Iowa will be randomly selected
and asked to take part in a two-year pilot project, beginning in December.
Program officials also will track an additional 125 farm families not participating
in the program to compare and gauge the effectiveness of the CSF initiative.
Both groups of participants will be reimbursed for participating, and many
will receive a free preventive health screening, an on-farm safety review
and free educational materials. In addition to the free services, those
who successfully complete the program and whose farms are certified as
safe will receive a check for approximately $200 each year of the pilot
Financial support for the CSF Program has come from Pioneer Hi-Bred
International, Inc., the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health, the National Pork Producers Council, the Iowa Pork Producers and
the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority within the Iowa Department
of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.