Deadline approaching for farm safety day

Dec. 28, 2013 @ 03:35 PM

The cooperative extension centers for Vance, Granville and Warren counties are launching an effort to improve farm safety.

“Farming is a dangerous business,” said Paul McKenzie, horticulture and agriculture agent for the Vance and Warren county centers.

He said farm equipment, shops with power tools, chemicals and other items of everyday farm life present an array of hazards.

To focus attention on the issue, the cooperative extension centers in the three-county area will sponsor a farm safety field day on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the Granville County Expo and Convention Center on U.S. 15 South, about two miles from Oxford.

The opening presentations will be made by Robin Tutor-Marcom, director of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute at East Carolina University, and Julia F. Storm, agromedicine information specialist at N.C. State University.

Concurrent sessions will cover the safe use of landscaping equipment, farm equipment and chain saws. Attention will also be given to farm rescue.

Registration will begin at 7:15 a.m. Breakfast will be served at 7:45. The field day will conclude by 12:40 p.m.

The program is free, but advanced registration is requested by Jan. 7 to assist in planning.

Most sessions will be held outdoors and appropriate dress is advised.

McKenzie said the idea for the field day began almost a year ago when the Farm Bureaus for Granville and Vance counties sponsored him and Paul Westfall, director of Granville County Cooperative Extension, to attend a statewide Farm Bureau workshop on farm safety.

“We came away excited about it and wanted to bring it to our counties,” McKenzie said.

The result is the farm safety field day.

McKenzie and Westfall are also initiating a new service for local farmers, a voluntary program to assess risks and safety of their operations.

“We’re not regulatory,” McKenzie said. “If equipment needs repair, we’ll make recommendations. If they pass, they’ll be a Certified Safe Farm.”

Areas inspected will include equipment, storage structures, machine shops, greenhouses and chemical storage.

The Certified Safe Farm program was developed in Iowa. It is offered in North Carolina through a collaboration of the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, AgriSafe of North Carolina and N.C. Cooperative Extension.

“Julia Storm got some grant money to implement it here,” McKenzie said. “We’re expanding it into Granville, Vance and Warren counties.”

Farming as a business has hazards imposed by the weather, pests and other unpredictables.

“An accident can seriously impede your ability to make a living,” McKenzie said. Improving farm safety can make it a little less risky.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.