PASA and NACAA Join Efforts to Promote Safe Digging

There are more than 2.2 million farms in America, feeding more than 400 million people worldwide. Our nation’s farmers helped transform life here in the U.S. and around the world. The farming  evolution that began in the 1800s transformed life in America and is the foundation that has allowed the United States to develop the world’s largest economy.

Today, there is an energy revolution in North America. Previously untapped natural resources are providing an abundance of energy that can once again transform life in the U.S. The safest way to transport that energy is through America’s growing network of more than 2.6 million miles of pipeline; much of that network lies beneath our nation’s farm fields and ranchland.

The Common Ground Alliance’s 2015 DIRT Report shows the root cause for over 75% of damages caused by farmers and landowners performing agricultural work is “no call for a locate.” A group of pipeline operators and Infrastructure Resources, LLC have partnered with the National Association
of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) to transform communication, safety, and the relationship with the agricultural community.

The Pipeline Ag Safety Alliance (PASA) was formed in 2015 to prevent damage to buried pipelines through education and improved communication. Industry research shows that farmers are far more
aware of 811 and “call before you dig” services than the general public. Unfortunately, fewer than one in five with a transmission or hazardous liquids pipeline on their land has ever called 811 before excavating.

One of the most trusted resources for farmers is their local County Ag Agent. The NACAA is a professional improvement organization of approximately 3,150 Extension Agents from across the United States, and is partnering with PASA to educate the agricultural community on safe digging practices. Each year, NACAA members have more than three million interactions with farmers and ranchers. PASA is establishing an army of experts who are motivated to carry our message to our nation’s 2.2 million farmers.

PASA and the NACAA began 2016 by co-presenting their efforts at the CGA 811 Excavation Safety Conference & Expo. Alan Galloway, incoming President of the NACAA, was impressed by the  industry’s efforts. “My experience as a first time presenter at the CGA 811 Conference was very enlightening. The enthusiasm shown by those working in education and marketing was impressive. Their questions and comments showed their sincere interest in improving contact with the farmers
and ranchers across the country to help prevent accidents. The variety of programs already underway
to publicize 811 Call Before You Dig were very innovative and far reaching. It is one thing to be aware
of 811; now I can better appreciate the depth of the programs in use to educate the public, businesses and farmers. Hopefully, I was able to share NACAA’s sincere desire to help spread the ‘call 811’ message to our audiences and clientele.”

The heaviest concentration of pipelines and farmland in the U.S. mirror each other, making it vitally important to spread the safe digging message in those areas.

Throughout the year, PASA educated local agents, creating experts in damage prevention. PASA introduced a first of its kind publication, the Farm and Ranch Excavation Safety Guide. The Guide was designed to provide a tool that does a far better job speaking the farmer’s language. It clearly  demonstrates how the process works once 811 is called, what to do in case of a pipeline strike, and best practices for safe excavation. It also spells out the One Call laws for each state. The Guide also dispels common myths, provides interesting information about pipeline operations, and gives NACAA the chance to share more about extension services. More than 40,000 copies of the Guide were distributed to farmers through Extension, One Call centers, and pipeline operators.

PASA also provided agents with a “toolbox” that included:
• Four farmer testimonial videos
• 811 process video
• Safe digging articles to be published in local media outlets
• Social media messaging and infographics
• PowerPoint slides to be inserted into agent presentations
• Electronic and print copies of the Farm and Ranch Excavation Safety Guide

NACAA members continue to publish scores of articles in local media outlets helping educate the
agricultural community on several topics, including the One Call process, the difference between
farming and excavating, 811 myths, and what to do in case a pipeline is hit. Local ag agents are a
staple for rural publications, radio, and television.

During the NACAA annual meeting, PASA conducted a survey of agents to better understand their level of awareness, motivation, and reach. As collaborative efforts continue to grow and evolve, 2017 will see greater emphasis on state and local support, connecting more PASA members with county agents, and involvement in large farm shows that include extension programs.

PASA’s membership has swelled to more than 20 pipeline operators all across America. As PASA
continues to grow its relationship with extension services and NACAA, it will continue to extend its
reach and effectiveness in helping the agricultural community understand the importance of safe digging practices.

To learn more about PASA, visit www.pipelineagsafetyalliance.com.

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