Third round of Back to Ag Funding Helps Four Injured Farmers in Canada

May 9, 2016, Winnipeg, MB – The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) in partnership with Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) are pleased to announce four traumatically-injured farmers have received funding through the Back to Ag Program.

“Working in partnership with FCC and RHF, we identified a gap,” says Marcel Hacault, Executive Director of CASA. “Injured farmers were struggling because there was no assistance for adaptive technology. This is where Back to Ag shines.”

Three farmers from Saskatchewan and one from Ontario received funding to help them get back to what they love – farming. Recipients were awarded up to $10,000 to help with the purchase of adaptive technology such as a cattle handling systems, a grain handling system, and a wheelchair lift.

“FCC employees are part of many rural communities, so we know how important it is to lend a helping hand after a farm accident has caused serious injury,” says Sophie Perreault, FCC executive vice-president and chief operating officer. “There is nothing better than to see someone return from injury to lead a full and productive life in the industry we love and support.”

Barry Cloutier, a farmer from near Ponteix, Saskatchewan, is one farmer that Back to Ag has helped.

In October of 2014, Cloutier was running a round baler when trouble struck. “The twine yanked out,” he explains. “To see where the problem was, I had to leave the baler running.” That’s when he saw the buildup of chaff and straw. “I’ve had two baler fires, so I’m pretty wary of extra chaff and straw. I reached out to remove the blockage – I wasn’t thinking at that point, and that’s when my fingers found the roller chain,” Cloutier says. “I knew better, but it was close to supper time, and I wanted to be done my work in 15 minutes.”

Cloutier had lost portions of his index and middle finger on his right hand. Cloutier immediately called 911. After some initial confusion on where he exactly was, the paramedics found him, and the ambulance rushed him to the hospital in Swift Current.

After a night in Swift Current and day surgery in Regina, Cloutier was back on the farm. “I had to have my hand bandaged and cleaned daily at the local hospital. I also had to drive to Regina for a time for a hand therapy program,” he says. “The physical therapist told me that she could see I was stubborn and that I was going to work to get my hand and fingers to the point where I could make a fist. And I did.”

Even with his injury, Cloutier hasn’t slowed down on the farm. “I don’t want to do anything else,” he explains. “This is where my heart is. This is me; this is who I am, and this is what I do.”

However, Cloutier’s injury has affected his ability to do his job on the farm. “It’s a good thing I’m stubborn,” he says. “Things are more difficult. I have to think and plan very carefully what I’m going to do. My hand is always very sensitive, always cold. If I’m climbing a ladder or working around machinery, I have to be very thoughtful about how to use my hand; the strength isn’t there anymore.” Cloutier has looked into other programs and personal insurance, but no program or insurance existed that would be able to help him deal with his injury on the farm.

That’s when he saw an article about Back to Ag.

“I was waiting for my wife and happened across a newspaper article about Back to Ag,” he explains. “I thought, wow, that’s interesting!” Cloutier explains that he started thinking about applying and what type of technical solution would best accommodate his injury. Cloutier faces many challenges in having only two fingers on his dominant hand and hauling five-gallon pails is one of them.

With over 200 head of livestock, Cloutier was dependent on a shovel and pail to feed his animals. “I put out pails six months of the year,” he explains. “I needed something that would help ease the pressure and pain on my hand.”

Through the Back to Ag Program, Cloutier was able to purchase a cattle-feed cart. This grain handling system means that Cloutier is able to feed his livestock more efficiently and safely, without the risk of injuring his hand further.

When talking about the grain handling system, he is enthusiastic. “I like the way it looks; it’s a great idea. I like the idea of not having to haul those doggone pails.” He does have one problem with the new grain handling system, “It might make me want to farm that much longer,” he laughs.

Cloutier encourages other traumatically-injured farmers to find out more about the Back to Ag Program. “Definitely apply,” he says. “Find out more and use it for something that’s going to help you and be useful on your farm.”

For more information on the Back to Ag Program, please visit casa-acsa.ca, email backtoag@casa-acsa.ca or call 1 877 452 2272.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and safety of farmers, their families, and agricultural workers. CASA is funded in part by Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative and receives additional support from the agricultural and corporate sectors. For more information, visit www.casa-acsa.ca, find us on Facebook or LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter @planfarmsafety.

About Farm Credit Canada

FCC is Canada’s leading agriculture lender, with a healthy loan portfolio of more than $28 billion. Our employees are dedicated to the future of Canadian agriculture and its role in feeding an ever-growing world. We provide flexible, competitively priced financing, management software, information and knowledge specifically designed for the agriculture and agri-food industry. Our profits are reinvested back into agriculture and the communities where our customers and employees live and work. Visit fcc.ca or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and on Twitter @FCCagriculture.

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For more information, please contact:

Robin Anderson, Communications Officer
204-275-8870
randerson@casa-acsa.ca