MINNEAPOLIS — CHS Inc. said it has committed $3 million to a national agriculture safety initiative.
“As U.S. agriculture ramps up to feed the nine billion people projected to inhabit this planet by 2050, we have new technologies and safety risks to address plus a growing workforce to train,” Carl Casale, president and chief executive officer of CHS, said in announcing the initiative during his address to the 2013 North American Agricultural Safety Summit. “That’s why CHS is investing in this multi-million-dollar initiative — focused on college students and adults — to help keep our next generation of agricultural leaders safe.”
The investment includes $1 million for a competitive grants program supporting rural safety projects and $2 million to support safety programs with five partner organizations:
•Agricultural Health and Safety Council, addressing emerging occupational safety and health issues affecting U.S. agriculture;
•AgriSafe Network, helping train a national workforce of rural health providers and developing a new college health program for agricultural students;
•GEAPS Foundation, in support of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society working in conjunction with Kansas State University on distance learning, credentialing and other safe grain handling educational efforts;
•National AgrAbility, working in conjunction with Purdue University on agricultural education and enhancing quality of life for farmers, ranchers and other ag workers affected by disabling conditions; and
•Propane and Education Research Council, advancing the safe use of propane on the farm through training and research.
Details of the competitive grants program will be announced in early 2014. Both the CHS corporate giving program and the independent CHS Foundation will provide funding.
“We chose to partner with these five forward-thinking organizations because of their strong safety visions and accomplishments,” Mr. Casale said. “Working together, we are also hoping to secure matching funds to further leverage our investment and efforts.”
Mr. Casale also addressed the topic of “safety first as a corporate social responsibility” during his remarks at the summit.
“In agriculture, we’re independent spirits,” he said. “We have a get ‘er done attitude. We work in an industry with inherent risks. And when we get busy, it can be easy to take a chance ‘just this once.’ What we do must be done safely — every time. We in agriculture are being called on to produce more and do it faster. And that means even more risk for more people. In doubling the food supply, we must not reduce our commitment to safety. In fact, we must increase it.”
Some examples of commitments being made by CHS that were cited by Mr. Casale included conducting a safety culture survey, establishing safety plans for all businesses, opening all meetings with a safety message, sending safety reminders to employees at their homes, and incorporating safety goals into incentive pay for its leaders.