Do as I Say Not as I Did

The third week of September is recognized as National Farm Safety week.  This annual observance dates back to the 1940’s and continues to be an important reminder for all of us.  This year’s theme is Every Farmer Counts and while many things in agriculture have changed over the years the importance of farm safety has not.  Even though ag workers make up only 1% of our population today, agriculture is still one of the most dangerous occupations in America. While technology has certainly helped in some important areas such as communication, it hasn’t removed all the risks associated with farming.  Agriculture of course will never be a zero risk occupation but there are ways to make it safer. Perhaps the biggest risk is the attitude that it will never happen to me.  When I look back at my days working on the farm as a teenager, I realize now that I took many dangerous and foolish risks.  From riding on a tractor draw bar over a bumpy field to cleaning out a grain bin with no mask, I continually put myself in dangerous situations. Farm safety covers many areas.  Long hours, weather, machinery issues, slow lines at the elevator and crop prices can all contribute to dangerous distractions.  It only takes a momentary lapse in concentration to cause a life changing accident.  Even those who are not farmers need to be extra cautious this time of year.  Motorists need to be aware of large, slow moving equipment on our rural roads and be more patient and careful when approaching and passing.  Farmers need to make sure they have the proper lighting and signage on their equipment.  Of course farm safety involves more than just physical challenges.  At best farming is stressful and these are far from the best of times in agriculture.  Many farmers are faced with heart wrenching decisions over being able to continue doing what they love to do. Farmers don’t like to talk about such issues nor seek help in dealing with them.  We all need to look out for one another and be aware of warning signs.  Be sure to let them know you care about them and are there for them.  Encourage them to seek assistance if they need it and be willing to help them get it.  Even though social distancing has become part of our lives we need to stay connected.  It takes ALL of us working together to have a safe harvest season.