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June 2019: Reader Reply


As farmers are in their fields and ranchers get cattle to pasture, what farm or ranch safety tip do you wish everyone would follow and why?

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal there are more than 2 million farms and ranches in the United States. More than 95 percent of these are owned by families. As family businesses, it is sometimes easy to overlook basic safety precautions which are mandatory in other commercial operations. Among the most basic of these are hearing and eye protection, commonly required in any manufacturing or production facility.

While it might be possible to farm or ranch with a hearing impairment, it would be nearly impossible to do so for someone who is blind. The irony here is that earplugs and safety glasses can be purchased for just a few dollars, yet the loss of sight might doom a multimillion-dollar farm or ranch operation forever.

Every farmer and rancher out there has had a close call – a burst hydraulic hose, a rock through the tractor window, a splash of chemicals, or metal chain links flying like shrapnel when trying to free a mired trailer or truck. Even mowing the lawn can be hazardous. Yet it is uncommon to see people wearing eye protection. Sure, they’re not stylish, but they are effective.

Those who have chosen the farm and ranch lifestyle as their profession should protect themselves like other industry professionals – buy some safety glasses and use them. They might be the best investment you ever made.

Dan Sobieck
Member of Verendrye Electric Cooperative


We are all guilty of getting caught up in our thoughts about what we have to do that particular day. This preoccupation can be a dangerous thing when we are around cattle, traffic and machinery. The best mottos to remember are “pay attention” and “don’t assume anything.”

If you are taking the four-wheeler out to check the fence and the neighbor is using the same gravel road to haul grain, don't assume he sees you. Pause at the crossroads for 20 seconds to make sure the road is clear of traffic.

If the grandkids come to visit, don’t move anything until you know for sure they are not in the area. When your grandson wants to ride with you, use the seatbelt on the buddy seat.

Putting on anhydrous? Pay attention to whether or not you have water, goggles and gloves. Use them. Again, don’t assume everything will go as expected. Safety equipment is there for a reason.

Pay attention to other drivers. They may not understand why you are driving so slowly, get antsy and pass in a no-pass zone, dodging in front of you.

Cows do unexpected maneuvers when they are upset. If you are not watching, you might get knocked down.

Daydreaming is fine at the dining room table. But while you are working, pay attention to what's going on around you and don’t assume anything.

Lona Lutz
Member of Northern Plains Electric Cooperative


My safety tip for ranchers taking cattle to pasture is to make sure the little calves are able to REACH the water in the tank and yet have a plank around the tank, so the calves do not get pushed into the tank by the cows.

The plank around the tank should be so the calves don’t get knocked into the tank and get trapped in the water, where they cannot get out. I have seen this happen and, luckily, the calf was saved.

Brenda Maus
Member of Goldenwest Electric Cooperative


Farming has been at the top of the most hazardous industries in America for a number of years.

Slow down. Catch your breath for a few moments to run that checklist through your mind.

Turn around. Look for potential hazards or for things that don’t belong there – open gates, open doors or a light left on.

This year, when most farmers and ranchers are far behind due to the weather, farm safety should be a top priority for everyone. Most of all, we want everybody home, safe and sound.

Susan Schmitt
Member of Slope Electric Cooperative