A reminder that “Every Farmer Counts” from National Farm Safety & Health Week

Next week is National Farm Safety and Health Week (Sept. 20-26), with a reminder that “Every Farmer Counts.” This year’s theme is especially true as COVID-19 lingers, adding to the usual physical and mental health and safety concerns on the farm.

Having farm readiness plans ahead of harvest allows farmers to take the time to slow down and think through necessary safety measures. Through planning and preparation, farmers can easily pivot when faced with the unexpected – including COVID-19.

David Gibson, the executive director for Texas Corn Producers (TCP), says:

“This year has been unique for every American. It can be easy to feel isolated in the wide-open spaces of Texas farmland; yet, we know the pandemic and its impact reach even the most remote Texas communities.”

It’s important for farmers to prepare ahead of time so they can easily accommodate a change of plans due to a farmhand or even family member contracting the illness, in addition to the precautions taken every year.

Gibson says:

“It’s important to do our part in taking the necessary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. As someone who contracted the illness this spring, I know this is not a sickness any farmer wants to battle come harvest time – especially when a halt in operations can be detrimental to the farm business. It’s important to put in place social distancing measures, wear masks in public places, and keep hands clean by using hand sanitizer and washing often.”

National Farm Safety and Health Week organizers note that this year’s theme of “Every Farmer Counts” acknowledges, celebrates, and uplifts America’s farmers and ranchers who have encountered many challenges over the past couple of years, yet continue to work hard to provide the food, fuel, and fiber that Americans need.

TCP encourages farmers to have a farm readiness plan in place, so their operations don’t come to a halt in the event of an accident or illness. Once developed, farmers should place their plans where they can easily be found, and additional copies can be shared with trusted business partners, neighbors, or friends.

FARM READINESS CHECKLIST

Protect Yourself

  • Always “take a second for safety.” An extra second could save your life.
  • Wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Drink plenty of water and get enough rest.
  • Make it a point to check in with family and loved ones regularly, especially when fall gets hectic.
  • Take time for yourself, even if it’s just a quick walk around the farm.
  • Monitor yourself for signs of stress. If you notice something odd, say something.
  • Follow all safety guidelines for equipment.

General Farm Information to Include

  • Hired help contact information and primary job responsibilities
  • Typical machinery dealership and/or repair services used
  • Crop advisor and/or farm manager name and phone number
  • Crop insurance agent name and phone number
  • Ag lender name and phone number
  • Locations of equipment needed for harvest

Field Plans

  • Field names and locations
    • Highlight in a plat book, if possible
    • Note where the field entrance is and what side is best to start working from
    • Location of hybrids that may be sooner to dry down for harvest
    • Do you have irrigation equipment that needs to be moved?
    • Are there any potential hazards for harvest (deep gullies or pivot stops)?
  • What still needs to be done? Do you have pivots that need to be checked?

Stored Crop Plans

  • What is your intended location for storage or delivery for each field’s crop?
  • Are there any bins that need to clean out? Where do you deliver to?
  • Are all bins functioning clearly?
    • Which bins may need to be watched more closely than others?
  • Do you have any upcoming delivery contacts? List specific contract information.
  • Does anyone help market your crops? If so, list their contact information.

Additionally, TCP encourages farmers to take the extra second to think through the necessary safety precautions that are crucial for every harvest.

Gibson says:

“Taking the time to think through equipment safety, entanglement hazards, fall hazards, fire prevention, grain wagon, and grain bin safety can prevent detrimental accidents. It’s time well spent to step back and ensure a safe harvest.”

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