President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the hazards in
agriculture and brought it to the forefront when he proclaimed the third week of
September as National Farm Safety Week in 1944.
Although agriculture has made incredible advances in the
last 70 years in efficiency, productivity and technology, farming and ranching
remains one of the most hazardous industries in the U.S.
This year’s theme, “Working Together for Safety in
Agriculture,” truly sums up what this week means.
Farm safety isn’t just about Mr. Smith and his family being
careful doing their duties on the farm. It is about everyone — urbanites and
Too many times I have seen an anxious driver behind a
tractor on the roadways weaving back across the centerline trying to find an
opening to pass the farmer on a busy road.
About this time last year, I was on a school bus for my
daughter’s class trip, and we were southbound on Route 23 south of Ottawa, Ill.,
where a farmer was moving his combine from a field to his home just down the
Behind the combine was a guy who apparently was late for
something so important that it was worth risking his life and others to get
there. I saw the farmer turn on his right-turn signal and knew he would have to
make a wide turn to get into his driveway with his combine.
As the farmer neared his turn, the driver stepped on the gas
to pass. As he did so, the farmer maneuvered a little left to make the turn and
the car driver had to move over the shoulder while traveling at a high rate of
To make things worse, the driver in an approaching
northbound car had to hit his breaks to avoid hitting the oncoming car. It could
have been a three-vehicle accident or even worse since our school bus was right
Thank God there were no collisions, but that careless act by
that one car driver could have been a catastrophe for many of us along that
stretch of Route 23 that day.
Safety in agriculture begins and ends with each of us. We
have to work together so we can all return home safely to our loved ones each