After two of his former students — Ram Seibel, and his son, Jeremy — were killed in a farm accident, retired Bloomer agriculture instructor Merle Richter wanted to honor the father and son and bring awareness to safe farming practices.
In 2017, Richter and Ann Seibel, Ram’s wife and Jeremy’s mother, organized a 35-mile bicycle ride, the Tour de Farm Safety, that made stops on Bloomer-area farms and focused on safety precautions taken on the farms.
After a year off, the Tour de Farm Safety returns Saturday, June 29, with stops at four area farms not visited during the first ride.
“They’ve got some neat things and stops planned again this year to raise money for farm safety and scholarships,” said WAXX/WAYY Radio Farm Director Bob Bosold, who will be on hand to kick off the ride from Pines Ballroom in Bloomer.
On July 2, 2015, Ram and Jeremy Seibel were killed in a farm accident in a manure-confinement system on the family’s farm. Ram called his brother and farming partner, Ron Seibel, to look after the cows while Ram went into the pit after a piece of equipment that had fallen off. While in the pit, Ram was overcome by the gas build-up. Jeremy tried to come to his father’s rescue but was killed too.
About a year after the accident, Richter approached Ann Seibel about doing something to honor the memory of Ram and Jeremy.
After dedicating his ride at the 2016 Ride to Farm in southern Wisconsin to the two men, Ann and Merle came up with the idea of creating a bicycle ride around Bloomer that focuses on farm safety.
“Ann’s just phenomenal,” Richter said. “She’s the real impetus for this thing. They’re an amazing family.”
Proceeds from the ride will go to the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course’s Ram and Jeremy Seibel Scholarship fund and to a Bloomer FFA scholarship. Jeremy was a graduate of the short course.
“There’s got to be something good that comes out of this,” Ann said before the first Tour de Farm Safety in 2017. “We’ve got to do something that can help save other people.”
Nearly 200 riders took part in the first Tour de Farm Safety, and Richter said he is hoping for a similar turnout this time around. As of early June, there were about 100 riders and another 100 non-riders just hoping to make the farm visits registered.
“This has been such a funny year,” Richter said. “We had no spring, when people are usually out riding. A lot of people have said they haven’t even gotten their bikes down yet.”
Registration runs through Monday. Registration materials are available on the website, https://foreverinourfields.com, and at the Bloomer Area Aquatic and Recreation Center.
“It was such a great success two years ago,” Richter said. “What we always overlook about a bike ride is how nice it is to chat with people while you’re out on the road.”