MINNEAPOLIS — The USDA announced Wednesday that it is providing Penn State with a $600,000 grant to develop a national curriculum to provide safety training for the more than 2 million youths working in agricultural production.
“Working on the farm or ranch is hard work, and it can also be dangerous,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By working together, we can be sure that young people in rural America have the opportunity to reap the many benefits of helping out on the farm, while also staying safe.”
Ann Bartuska, deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics, made the announcement at the North American Agricultural Safety Summit in Minneapolis, Minn.
“Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the nation. As such, thousands of youth are injured and hundreds are killed every year by hazards found on the farm,” she said. “As these youth play a vital role in the productivity of American agriculture, USDA has a responsibility to the education and resources needed to train youth in safe farming practices.”
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grant to Penn State to develop a training curriculum that will reduce agricultural hazards to young workers.
The training will align with the Career Cluster Standards of the National Council for Agricultural Education for a unified approach to a national farm safety education and curricula-certification program for youth.
The project will establish a national steering committee to engage the Department of Education, Department of Labor, FFA, Farm Bureau, Farmers Union, Ag Safety and Health Council of America, National Council for Ag Education and other partners.
The committee will work to identify curriculum and testing gaps, certification needs, and industry-recognized credentials.
Curriculum materials will be placed on the eXtension website in the new Ag Safety and Health Community of Practice to be used in both formal and nonformal settings.
A national outreach strategy will promote use of the curriculum by youth and farm safety instructors for parents and 4-H youth programs.
Additionally, the project will determine the resources required to sustain a clearinghouse for national youth farm safety and education curriculum, state certification requirements and testing.