Faith  •  Family  •  Farming  Farm Safety and Health Week

Most farmers are analytical by nature. Identifying and solving problems happens every day in the life of a farmer. Setting and accomplishing goals of what needs to be completed in a day’s work is a tangible way to see results. Along with a higher calf crop, reducing debt and increasing net worth, recognizing and following farm safety practices needs to rank right up there in order of significance.

This week, September 19 - 25,  is National Farm Safety and Health Week and the theme is Farm Safety Yields Real Results. The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, IA, is the only organization with a hands-on farm equipment safety training center. According to their website, NECAS has been helping to keep farms safe since 1944 when the National Safety Council encouraged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the first National Farm Safety Week proclamation, bringing attention to the hazards and risks of farm work. National Farm Safety and Health Week has been recognized by presidential proclamation from every president since then.

Numbers and statistics can be skewed but ultimately they don’t lie. The 2019 data for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers. Fall harvest can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry which is why the third week in September is traditionally recognized with this necessary observance. 

As if being in the most dangerous occupation in the country wasn’t enough, coupled with the ongoing stress and unprecedented challenges from COVID-19 and the physical and mental health of farmers and ranchers is being threatened. 

President Biden explains the current predicament of today’s ag producers in his Proclamation. “Despite these challenges, our dedicated farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers have continued to work around the clock, putting their lives and the lives of their loved ones on the line to ensure that families across the country have food on the table.  Their sacrifices are commendable, but they should not have to risk injury, illness, or death to do their jobs.  Our Nation has a duty to protect agricultural workers and promote safety education for farmers and farm families.  We must continue to reduce the risks of accidents, injuries, and fatalities — including those on rural roadways involving tractors and other machinery — as well as the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to fertilizers and chemical agents.”

On our farm, we started our corn harvest this past weekend. Whether you are the truck driver, grain cart operator, co-op elevator staff or provide on the farm service to keep all the equipment running, I wish you all well as fall harvest begins. Remember to always make safety be the top priority in your mind when you enter the tractor or combine. Drop me an email or a phone call and let me know how your harvest is progressing. I’ll give harvest updates right here in The Dispatch.