A simple click of a mouse could help farmers who have suffered life-changing injuries get back to the work they love.
The Back to Ag campaign launched May 29 in Regina by Farm Credit Canada, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association aims to raise money for the equipment that injured farmers or farm workers need to continue farming.
The key is the #BacktoAg hashtag.
FCC will donate $1 to the fund, up to a maximum of $100,000, each time a social media user uses that hashtag in a tweet, or likes or shares a campaign Facebook post. The campaign runs May 29 to June 13.
FCC president Greg Stewart said the idea came from a lunch meeting with Rick Hansen, who had been participating in FCC events in the past year.
Hansen said that experience allowed him to meet people in need and also take a look at what his foundation had already done to help people with disabilities in the farming community.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over 25 years but there’s still much work to be done,” he said.
Stewart said social media was selected for the campaign because it’s fast and reaches a lot of people.
“As CEO of FCC, I usually don’t want us to spend all our money, but in this case, over the next two weeks, I hope we spend every cent,” he said.
The partners said they hope the campaign will encourage other private companies, organizations and individuals to contribute above and beyond the $100,000 campaign goal.
CASA executive director Marcel Hacault said prevention is the organization’s ultimate goal, but “we know every once in a while there will be farmers that, despite our best efforts, will get hurt and we’ve never been able to help these farmers.”
He said it’s hard to track how many people’s lives are altered by farm accidents.
Media reports in the last year suggested at least 300 accidents were serious enough to make the news, he said.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Hacault said.
“That’s a bit of the scary part is just how much need is out there and will we be able to meet that need.”
The program will open for applications through CASA in October, and the money should begin to flow by the beginning of next year.
“We’re working in collaboration with the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Canadian Farmers with Disabilities registry to help us identify some of the criteria and how to determine the need because of course some people will have more need than others,” Hacault said.
The program has set a cap of $10,000 per applicant in anticipation that at least 10 farmers will apply.
Hansen said it is a pilot program that he believes will become a sustainable movement and generate millions of dollars in the future.
“In the past, our foundation has made donations to be able to actually help farmers adapt their tractors, adapt their saddles for ranching,” he said.
There are medical technologies, such as breathing stimulators, which allow paralyzed people to breathe without mechanical intervention.
“These interventions are really important because it removes a barrier and liberates potential,” he said.