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April 01, 2014 7:16 am

EDITORIAL: Here’s wishing farmers safety, good weather and success this year

Written by Tom Lawrence

Farmers are on our minds right now.

We wish them well as spring planting gets underway. The long, cold, damp winter of 2013-14, which is officially over but, like an unwelcome guest who ignores hints to depart, is sticking around.

Snow, sleet and rain are falling as this editorial is being written in the closing days of March. This sodden spring has kept farmers and the people who work for them out of the fields, but they are determined to get their crops planted and tended soon.

Here’s hoping for a decent balance of sun and rain, of warm days and plenty of sunshine as these gamblers in dusty caps roll the dice once more. The local economy depends on their work ethic, commitment and success.

We admire the effort these farmers expend. It’s no secret that the men and women who work in the fields, barns and sheds put in long hours, especially at times like this. Planting season involves seemingly endless hours.

We hope they don’t push themselves too hard, although telling a farmer to slow down and call it a day after 10, 12 or more hours of work usually is a waste of time. These people are defined by hard work.

However, we urge them to consider safety at all times. The website Bankrate listed agriculture as the eighth most dangerous job in America in a recent top 10 list.

“Working the land may be one of the oldest professions, but new efficient technology has done little to make the job any safer,” the report stated. “Long hours and close, consistent contact with heavy machinery and equipment represent the bulk of injuries and fatalities on the job, which is largely represented by transportation incidents.”

We saw a tragic example in our area last summer, when Ty Aagard, just 25, was killed in a baling accident in rural Manderson. It’s a grim side of this career, something not fully understood by most people.

Farmers are modest folks who undertake dangerous work without making a fuss about it. We hope those of us who rely on their production — all of us, that is — are aware of it as well.

A lesser concern, but still one worth noting, is the financial risk that farmers take. There are more than 70,000 acres of farmland in Park County, according to Rory Karhu, a district conservationist with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

That equals more than 110 square miles of crops each year, from alfalfa to sugar beets to dry beans, and other crops as well. It’s a tremendous investment in money as well as time.

In a good year, farmers who plow millions of dollars into their fields will see a solid return, enough to pay the bills, buy some equipment and perhaps treat the family to a few new items.

In a down year, with hail, drought or some other problem reducing their harvest, they just have to chalk it up to experience and hope for better luck the next year.

There are many reasons men and women work their farms. Many grew up knowing nothing but agriculture, while others enjoy being their own boss and setting a schedule they want to follow. Knowing that means working from sun-up to sundown makes us wonder what is so attractive about that, but then, we’re not farmers.

They are, and we’re thankful for that. Good luck this year, folks.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link April 02, 2014 2:44 pm posted by LaVonne E. Lawrence

    good article. Without farmers/ranchers we could not survive.

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