Twenty years ago the legislative act creating Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH) came into effect. Before there was I-CASH, there was the Iowa Agricultural Health and Safety Service Network (IAHASSN). This was a program that I managed as a result of a small two-year grant from the Iowa Legislature to develop four model occupational health clinics for farmers (taken after the concept of farmer health care in Sweden and Finland). The success of IAHASSN, combined with the Iowa-based policy effort, Agriculture at Risk, created model legislation for agricultural health and safety programs for the nation. I-CASH and the NIOSH Agricultural Health and Safety programs were a result.
Since 1990, coordinated efforts in agricultural health have dramatically changed. We now have an active I-CASH whose main mission is defined by our tag line, “Helping Farmers Stay Alive and Well.” Besides developing education and outreach interventions, and researching farm health issues, I-CASH serves as a hub to support and enhance communication and collaboration among the principal state entities making up I-CASH.
Have we done our job? Are we keeping farm families alive and well? In 1992, there were approximately 80 farm fatalities, a rate of about 70 per 100,000 farms. In 2008, there were approximately 30 farm fatalities, a rate of about 30 per 100,000 farms. When comparing this to national data, Iowa has moved ahead of the national trend.
Although we are in the process of further analyzing this data, there is an apparent positive trend over this period of time. So, let’s celebrate the 20th anniversary, not just of I-CASH, but of those in the state and region who have put their life’s effort in helping to keep farm families alive and well in agriculture.
Kelley Donham, MS, DVM, DACVPM
Director, Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health