~ Press release issued by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation
RICHMOND — To help encourage worker safety on farms, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation will highlight agricultural safety and rural health issues during Ag Safety Awareness Program Week, Feb. 28 through March 6.
The annual observation is organized by American Farm Bureau Federation to raise awareness of the hazards prevalent in agricultural industries. AFBF is partnering with the U.S. Agricultural Safety and Health Centers for this year’s observance. The theme is “Driving Safety Home,” and the campaign will promote roadway safety for farmers and rural community members, caretaker support, and farmer wellness and mental health.
“There are so many factors to consider when talking about farm safety, and I think it’s important that we try to address as many of those issues as we can,” said Dana Fisher, chairman of the VFBF Safety Advisory Committee.
“In jobs like farming, where you’re putting your head down to get the work done, completing those day-to-day operations are going to take precedence over thinking about safety,” Fisher noted. “Farming can be very dangerous, so it’s important to take that extra minute to consider the safety aspect of things.”
As planting season nears, Fisher added that the campaign is a timely reminder for farmers to start thinking about the safety of their farming equipment.
Machinery should be inspected to ensure it’s in safe working order before each use, and equipment that will be transported on public roads should be equipped with proper signage and warning lights. As farmers move from field to field to complete tasks, they also should keep emergency contacts informed about their location and what they’re doing.
“That way, people are looking out for you should something happen,” Fisher said.
In addition to adopting safe farming practices during Ag Safety Awareness Week, farmers also are encouraged to recognize the warning signs of farm stress.
According to 2020 survey findings released in December by AFBF, 66 percent of farmers and 53 percent of rural adults said the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. Additionally, 65 percent of farmers and 55 percent of rural adults have experienced feeling anxious, nervous and on-edge during the pandemic.