By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As harvest season approaches, the Department of Agriculture is hoping farmers take advantage of a new program to stay safe.

Last year, 18-year-old Landon Gran died inside a farm accident. He was set to begin his senior year at St. Peter High School.

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Since then his mom Michele has been advocating for more safety measures on Minnesota farms.

“It was a mother’s love, a mother’s mission,” said Gran. “It’s pretty hard to have that empty space at your farm table and in your life for the rest of your life.”

Michele’s family isn’t grieving alone. Last year between June and December, nine people died from farm accidents in Minnesota.

“We just don’t want another fatality to happen. We want this to be the last one,” said Patrice Bailey.

Bailey is an assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. He said lawmakers listened to Michele’s family and others last spring and created a program that would reimburse farmers who make safety upgrades to grain bins or silos.

“Since we launched it last Tuesday we’ve had 25 people send in applications so far,” said Bailey.

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The program reimburses farmers up to 75% of the cost to buy and install safety equipment. That includes equipment that can prevent falls, dust collection systems that help with air quality, and technology that a farmer can wear to prevent auger accidents.

“Technology that’s similar to an Apple watch that you can actually stop the auger from the inside,” said Bailey.

Gran hopes it’s just the start.

“To wait until an accident happened is not the time to say, darn it, I should have applied,” said Michele. “I hope it’s just the beginning.”

The program will essentially reimburse farmers up to $400 per bin or silo.

Another $40,000 has been set aside for rural mental health outreach.

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To learn more about the program, click here.

John Lauritsen