Clemson Agricultural Safety

Safety Spotlight – August 2020

“In my job at Farm Bureau, I work to manage and improve the member experience, train volunteer leaders within the organization, and develop the leadership experiences and capabilities of our members through the collegiate, YF&R and AG Leaders programs. Working with farmers and supporting the agriculture industry is such a wonderful privilege.”

What has been your level of involvement in the Clemson University Ag Safety program?
JC: SC Farm Bureau Federation is happy to collaborate with the Ag Safety program whenever possible. We have enjoyed partnering to provide safety field days for youth and we were thankful to have the program represented at our 2020 Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Charleston, SC for a powerful breakout session. Farm Bureaus across the country have a long history of supporting safety programs for agricultural communities. We were thankful to see the initiative that Clemson University has taken in promoting Ag Safety Education.

How important is it for farmers and other people in agriculture be safe?
JC: I’ve learned that farmers are extremely committed and dedicated to the work that they do, to the point of putting their own health and safety at risk in order to finish a job. We need every single farmer in the state of South Carolina; it is extremely important for every one of them to stay safe in order to continue contributing in such a meaningful way to their families and communities.

How often do you run across the topic of agricultural safety in your position?
JC: To be honest, we find that many farmers don’t want to take time out of their schedule to talk about safety, so we have to find creative ways to have the discussion. The State YF&R Committee hosted a session at the Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference called “Near Death Farm Experiences” and it ended up being one of the most powerful popular sessions. I find that testimonial is one of the most powerful tools for talking about safety.

What do you think the biggest concern is regarding agricultural safety?
JC: Every safety risk is a big concern, but I’d say a “growing” concern is roadway safety. Farmers are already at high risk while doing everyday chores that put them in harm’s way ON THE FARM; it is devastating that traveling from field to field ON THE ROAD is also dangerous for them.

Why is safety necessary?
JC: Safety is like anything else in life that we do well – we must create the habit of doing things safely. I have two sons – I want them to be completely capable of taking care of themselves and others well, so talking about safe practices is part of our everyday life. We have to cultivate safe behaviors – they will not just grow on their own.

What do you think is the best way to teach agricultural safety?
JC: I believe the #1 priority is to teach youth and college students. There are more and more young people who did not grow up on a farm entering into agricultural careers. Without that homegrown education, it is pertinent that young people learn how to operate safely through community and school-based educational initiatives.

What is the biggest way to leave an impression on the agricultural community?
JC: The ag sector is strong, vibrant, and smart – we can make the biggest impression on this community by giving them what they need to be successful – education, opportunity, support, and most of all – a belief that they are vital to our lives and well-being.

What can be done to spread awareness about safety issues?
JC: Forge strong partnerships at every level and identify ambassadors for the cause who care about the issues. The strength of Farm Bureau is its grassroots structure because we are organized around the idea that unifying many voices around a common issue is more impactful than a singular voice with concern. To spread awareness about agricultural safety, people must tell their stories and motivate others to care about the issue.

Do you have any advice for the agricultural sector in this time of uncertainty?
JC: At a time like this, the importance of our safe, affordable, and abundant food supply is more evident than ever. It is in the best interest of all of society for each of us to care about the well-being of our farmers. We must all take part in ensuring our farmers are safe, secure and able to continue working hard for us every day.

Submitted by Jessica Cabrera

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