Producer Page: Most Valuable Crop??

Most Valuable Crop??

What would you say is the most important crop we raise here in Southern Minnesota?  

Must be corn!……………wrong.

Then it is definitely soybeans!……wrong again.

Far and away the most valuable things we raise are…………………our children (and grandchildren).

I wanted to drive home this point as we head into the busiest and most dangerous time of the year on the farm.  Did you know that nearly 300 children under age 19 die per year in farming accidents in the USA? (source: Iowa State University) and nearly 1 in 8 total farm accidents happen to a child.  Here is a list of common perils that face our youngsters.

Tractors/Machinery are by far the biggest causes of tragedy.  Make sure that you do not allow a young person to operate any equipment that they do not have the skill or judgement to handle.  Take a lot of time to train carefully!  Put tractors and combines in park when exiting the cab and take the keys out of the ignition when young kids are around.  Make sure that no-one is in the way when backing up equipment.  Put all hydraulically controlled equipment in the down position when it is parked (ex-front end loaders, tillage equipment).  Keep PTO shields in place.

Livestock can be unpredictable--- Young children may see any type of livestock as a potential pet or plaything.  Make sure the kids are supervised and are educated about how to approach animals and to avoid certain animals in some situations.

Flowing Grain---1/3 of all grain suffocations happen to children under 14.  Flowing grain is fascinating to kids but will suck them in just like quicksand in seconds.  Keep kids away from grain wagons and trucks, and away from augers and bins.  You will not be strong enough to grab a child out of a stream of flowing grain. This should be a no-go zone period.

Pesticide/chemicals---I know this isn’t spray season but……do you have all containers of herbicide, insectide, anti-freeze etc. put away safely?   While you are busy attending to your farm work, that grandchild from the city may be exploring in your shop.

Falls---Grain bin ladders are especially dangerous.  Block accessible ladders and steps and store portable ladders out of reach.  Fence off and secure manure lagoons and farm ponds and wells.  Aid children when entering and exiting machinery.  Also don’t prop up heavy items that could fall on kids (ex. –Dual tires, drag sections) a small child can be trapped and suffocated very quickly. 

Electricity---Very dangerous and very deadly to curious youngsters.  Cover all electrical boxes and exposed wiring.  Replace frayed cords.  Unplug tools after use, so Junior doesn’t pick up the circular saw to imitate his uncle or Grandpa.

Prevention---If you are concerned about safety on your farm, maybe you should consider hiring a baby-sitter if you don’t have enough family around to properly supervise a young one.   Everyone on the farm should know where people are working and when to expect people back.  Even small children can be taught to dial 911 and ask for help in an emergency.

In closing, are you really that busy that you can’t take a few moments to tend to safety for kids??  Really?



Mark Producer Page headshotAbout Mark Warmka

Mark has worked at Peoples State Bank since 2003, serving as lead agricultural lending officer and bank Senior Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors. Mark has an extensive background in the financial services industry, possessing both investment and insurance licensing and is fully accredited as a crop insurance agent.

He and his wife, Kate, an elementary teacher in Blue Earth, live on and manage the home farm near Easton. Their daughter, Amanda, is a Physician Assistant at UHD Hospital and daughter, Sara, is teaching and coaching at Fairmont Public Schools. 

You can reach Mark by email or at 507-553-3155.

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