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Farm safety comes in different forms

An editorial on the full meaning of farm safety.
Farm Equipment
Farmer repairing agricultural equipment on a farm.

We’re in the midst of Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.  

When we think about agriculture safety, most people think about work on the job. They think about how to operate machinery. They talk about farm equipment coming into contact with overhead powerlines. They think about transporting their commodities from the farm to the market. More and more, they might associate grain bin safety with farm safety.

Cattle and other livestock farmers face all kinds of risk when on the job as well. There are plenty of dangers when dealing with large, powerful and unpredictable animals that, much like humans, can have ornery dispositions. 

These are all important things to remember when it comes to safety on the farm. It’s important to be smart and careful. After all, everybody wants to get home safely at the end of the day.

We’re hearing more and more about farm safety of another kind. We’re hearing about the importance of good mental health for Saskatchewan farmers. 

Farming has to be one of the most stressful jobs imaginable. It’s a profession with high risks and razor thin margins of error. You spent money on seed at the start of the year, and you have some measures you can take during the growing season, but in the end, there are no guarantees. 

As we’ve seen the last couple of years, drought can kill a crop before you get a chance to harvest it. But it’s more than just dry weather that can be a problem. Too much rain, an early frost, insects, hail and many other things can destroy yields or downgrade quality.

Farm equipment has become expensive, and while you work hard to to make sure it’s ready at the right time, sometimes a horribly-timed breakdown will occur.

Other times you’re a victim of horrible luck. You might be the only one in the area to get a hailstorm. Or, for whatever reason, you don’t get as much moisture as everyone else. 

Cattle? Yeah, there are lots of sources of stress with cattle, too. Many ranchers have been feeling the stress of pasture land conditions or inadequate hay.

Commodity prices are also beyond your control. You might have a great year, but maybe the prices won’t be as high as they should be. 

This is why so many producers struggle with stress and mental health. That’s why it’s important to have organizations with trained professionals who understand agriculture that are willing to work with and help producers.  

And that’s why it’s critical for farmers to reach out for help if they need it.  

We all know that farming is such a vital part of Saskatchewan’s economy and history. It built this province. Ask people outside of this province what they think of first when it comes to Saskatchewan, and the most common answer will be farming. 

We’re blessed with some of the greatest farming land in the world. And we have hard-working, knowledgeable people who work the land, who seed the crops, who pull off the harvest, and are always looking for better, more efficient and more responsible ways to do their jobs.  

We have some outstanding livestock producers who care deeply for their animals and take great care of them from the moment the animals are born.

We have others in agriculture, whether it be hobby farmers, acreage owners or those who are in some unconventional areas of the industry.  

Safety has been a growing point of emphasis in farming over the years, as we gain further awareness of the associated risks. Not only is it a tough, demanding job, but it’s fraught with risks.  

You’re never going to have a perfect safety record for the entire industry in the province, but it’s an objective to shoot for.