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Agriculture commissioner proclaims Sept. 19-25 Farm Safety and Health Week across Kentucky

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles has proclaimed Sept.19-25 as Farm Safety and Health Week in Kentucky to encourage farmers and farmworkers to put their health and safety first at all times. The theme for this year’s safety week is “Farm Safety Yields Real Results.”

“Farmers face a number of risks in the course of their work, from machinery accidents, chemical exposure, unruly livestock, grain bin entrapment, severe weather, and many others,” Commissioner Quarles said. “In Kentucky, we have made great strides to mitigate these risks to make farming safer than ever before. But one farm injury is one too many. ‘Farm Safety Yields Real Results,’ isn’t just the theme for this year’s farm safety and health week, it should be a guiding principle for our farmers. Whether you are on the farm, on the road, or in the home, please take that extra step to protect yourself and those around you.”

(Photo from Kentucky Department of Agriculture)

In addition to reminding farmers to keep safety top of mind and reminding drivers to share the road as we approach harvest season, the KDA is also embarking on a new campaign —“Raising Hope – Supporting Healthy Lives on Kentucky Farms” — that focuses strategies on the mental and physical health of agricultural producers. The campaign is made possible with appropriations from the General Assembly and partnerships with state universities and other state agencies.

With goals of developing community-based programming, education, communication and systems to support the mental and physical health of farmers and farm families, the campaign focuses on the reduction of stress, depression, and suicide among agriculture producers, along with maintaining physical safety while on the job.

Through research, prevention, intervention and community education and outreach, the project’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for Kentucky’s agricultural producers. Increasing awareness of stress among farmers, along with reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues is one way to establish community-based support systems for those who need it. In addition, it’s important to show appreciation of farmers and their families by realizing the positive impact they have on our communities. Addressing the mental health needs of farmers helps to reduce the physical injuries suffered on farms.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center reported that 15 Kentuckians engaged in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting died on the job in 2020, compared with 12 in 2019 and 50 in 1995.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) operates a Farm & Home Safety Program that provides educational resources and training to ensure the safety of farmers and their families. The farm and home safety team is always in high demand and in an average year appear in more than 100 events, including the National Farm Machinery Show; the Kentucky State Fair; WAVE Ag Day in Hickman, Kentucky; and the Milan No-Till Field Day in Milan, Tennessee.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, KDA’s Farm & Home Safety Program teamed up with the University of Kentucky’s Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention last year to create safety videos focusing on awareness of injury risks and mental health needs for farmers. Videos focus on rollover tractors, ATV and lawnmower injuries, and farmer mental health. Other videos encourage the public to share the road with farm machinery and enforce the importance of farmers practicing sun and heat safety while working outside.

Kentucky’s Farm and Safety Health Week coincides with the National Farm Safety and Health Week. This week acknowledges, celebrates, and uplifts America’s farmers and ranchers who have encountered many challenges, yet continue to work hard to provide the food, fiber, and fuel the public need.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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