Walz, Flanagan propose funding to help prevent farming accidents

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Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Tuesday announced a funding proposal of $250,000 to help enhance farm safety measures across the state.

The proposal suggests using the money to reimburse farmers who retrofit eligible tractors with rollover protective structures, to create a cost-share or reimbursement program for farmers wanting to invest in grain bin safety equipment and to create a campaign highlighting tractor and grain bin safety to promote the availability of the funding to farmers.

"Too many Minnesota families have lost loved ones to preventable farming accidents," Walz said.

"We need to do everything we can to ensure Minnesota farmers can work without fear of getting hurt or losing a loved one," Flanagan added. "That’s why we put forward a proposal to protect farmers from the real dangers they face every day."

Walz and Flanagan were joined at a news conference Tuesday by Michele Gran. She’s the mother of Landon Gran, who was 18 when he died in a grain bin accident on a neighboring farm near St. Peter last August. She has channeled her grief into a campaign for farm safety, including a pair of bills dubbed Landon’s Law that are making their way through the Legislature. She calls herself "a momma on a mission."

"I don’t want to stop here in Minnesota. I want Minnesota to be the leader," Gran told reporters as she fought back tears. Standing next to her husband, David, who held a picture of their son, Gran said that within a couple days of Landon’s death, "I was on the phone with TV stations, newspapers, the White House. I emailed just about anybody that I could think might that might listed, because our son’s death was preventable."

Two bills already working their way through the Legislature, by Sen. Nick Frentz of North Mankato and Rep. Jeff Brand of St. Peter, would provide $500,000 for grain bin safety and $250,000 for farmer education. The Democratic proposals have bipartisan support, and no opposition has emerged, with major agriculture groups including Farm Bureau, Farmers Union and the Minnesota Corn Growers Association supporting it.

The Governor’s Office said only about 2% of Minnesota’s workforce is engaged in agriculture, but it accounted for more than 30% of workplace fatalities in 2014. At least 10 farming-related deaths have been reported in Minnesota since June 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.