Harvest time is always a special time in the Midwest. For many row crop farmers, it’s their favorite time of year. They get to see the fruits of their labor and ag technology showing off through a successful cover crop plan, new seed varieties or a different weed management system. The excitement builds for several months as we watch our crops go through each meaningful stage.
It’s no secret that this year has been challenging for Missouri farmers and ranchers. We’ve been pushed by extreme weather, market uncertainty and depressed commodity prices. Last year, many across Missouri were dealing with drought and then were hit by a wet fall. That left many of our fellow farmers behind in fieldwork as we tried to harvest last year’s crop. This year, our state has faced historic flooding.
Time for safety
Show-Me Farm Safety is a group of agriculture, labor and safety groups that have joined together to remind you and your family to stay safe year-round on the farm. We know that great lessons in life often are learned by a hard day’s work on the farm, where priceless values and trusty methods are passed on from one generation to the next. Safety on the farm also should be planted in tradition.
Missouri’s greatest agricultural assets are the farmers and farm families across our state. It is our mission through the Show-Me Farm Safety Committee to protect our agricultural future. The committee will be launching a campaign during National Health & Safety Week to help keep you safe.
We will be blasting the airwaves with radio messages reminding the drivers around you to slow down and share the road. You’ll see the same message on social media from our partners, such as the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri State Highway Patrol, MU Extension, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and more.
Take an extra minute
It’s also important for farmers to keep the safety of other motorists as their top priority. If possible, avoid running equipment on highways during rush hours, bad weather and after dark. To alert motorists that you are operating a slow-moving vehicle, make sure your hazard lights are on, display a SMV emblem and have a pilot car accompany you on public roads with its hazard lights. A few quick reminders:
- Know your tractor.
- Avoid driving on steep hillsides.
- Never start it in a closed shed.
- Use rollover protection structures.
- Wear a seat belt.
- Never allow passengers.
- Take your time and use common sense.
- Avoid loose-fitting or torn clothing while working with equipment.
Harvest is a stressful time. Be sure to take care of yourself both mentally and physically this fall. Also, keep an eye out for fellow farmers, family members and team members. It will be easy to get rushed heading into the field this fall. For your sake and your family’s future, please remember to take an extra minute to follow additional safety precautions throughout harvest.
To learn more, or to find tips and resources for your family farm, visit farmsafety.mo.gov.
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.