You've heard the term "risk management" a lot over the past few years. Usually it's used in regards to covering your crops with federally-backed crop insurance so you can manage the financial impact of a bad crop year on your business.
Bill Field believes there is another form of risk management that might be just as important for your farm business. Yet few farmers give it much thought.
"It's time more people thought about risk management in terms of preventing accidents on their farm," says Field, Purdue University Extension farm safety specialist.
Field's contention is that in today's sue-happy society and with big dollars at stake in agriculture, you need to be prepared and understand that protecting the business against unexpected big hits due to a lawsuit or other losses due to a farm accident is essential.
He has testified in more than100 cases in his career in courts involving farm accidents. The farmer doesn't always walk away the winner, even if it appears he should, Field notes.
Field suggests selecting someone with some authority in the farm operation to be in charge of risk management for farm safety matters. It should be someone other members of the farming team in your operation respect.
Field's biggest plea is for this person, or all members of a farm family or farming operation, have the courage to tell someone else if they see them doing something that could result in an accident.
"We all do dumb things," Field says. He admits seven he does dumb things sometimes at home on his own small farm after hours.
"If you see someone doing something dumb, even if they've done it that way forever, you need to tactfully but forcefully tell them what they're doing is dumb, and that they should consider doing it differently," he says.
The idea is not to embarrass them, Field says, but to reduce the chances for an accident which could result in injury or death, not to mention possible financial cost to the farm family or farm business.