Farm Safety week comes every March. If you’ve been reading Grainews regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been writing safety articles for this special feature for the past few years. Farming is part of my family. It has been for generations. We have some pieces of our history and our traditions we hold dear. Others must change with time, with technology and with choice.
Much has been said for keeping families in farming, and I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see more families farming, engaging in agriculture. Both urban and rural.
Agriculture is an industry, one that is a foundation for Western Canada and one that has a proud history. It also is a business. A family tradition, a legacy. We love it, and sometimes we hate it. What agriculture never has been, and can never be is stagnant. We always move forward. We always move laterally. We are always learning and growing. That means sometimes we have to let go of our sacred cows, our fears and our blinders.
Sacred cows? Yes. Those notions that keep us doing things that are unsafe on our farms because, “It’s the way we do things.” We have to recognize that if we are going to have future generations in agriculture we have to leave unsafe practices to memory.
My husband’s grandmother was there when her dad fell into the threshing machine. She lost so much at such a young age. She married a farmer who embraced, pursued and engaged in progressive ideas, technology and refused to be stuck in a mindset that didn’t allow for growth.
We lose fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, friends and animals to farming accidents all too often. And the defense of our lifestyle, our culture, becomes an excuse to avoid change. “We can’t be doing ‘safety’ because that would stop us from farming as a family.” Nonsense. If any other industry was willing to sacrifice its future to outdated and unsafe practices would we accept their defense of, “It’s the way we do things,” I think not.
Our fears? Yes. Our fears of change, of growing our industry into something bigger, broader and deeper. If we are going to attract new people and new ideas we have to be safe. We have to value the life and health of our families and workers as much as we do a new tractor or an old tradition. We need to let go of the fear of being open with our safety practices. We need to let go of our fear of the unknown and become the advocates for our industry. Who better than those in ag to guide us in the future? But we have to be seen and heard as progressive advocates. We have to let go of the fears that our industry will suffer if we are openly passionate about farming and farming safely.
Farm safety is an issue where farming wears some deadly blinders.
These blinders block our view of not only how people see farmers but how they view us as an industry. An industry with booming technology developments, daily engagement with those who eat (ie: everyone) and a place that is always looking to hire good people. We are literally and figuratively a growth industry.
Blinders are varied but they are anything that keeps us from seeing our industry with a fresh perspective. One that allows for strong traditions but also doesn’t fear engaging in the hard conversations and the tough decisions. The blinders of economy are the ones that have agriculture refusing to see how consumers drive change in our industry, and keep us blind to our influence in changing direction.
If you do only one thing this Farm Safety Week do this: embrace your family and decide how to keep them safe. This year’s theme is Keeping Kids Safe. So many great resources are available online and from different companies and ag departments. Use them. Many are free, but even if they weren’t it is an investment in your farm and family to embrace farm safety 24/7/365/.