Farm Safety and Health Week being observed; handling stress can be a difficult task for farm families

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) is dedicated to preventing illnesses, injuries and deaths among farmers and ranchers, agricultural and horticultural workers, their families and their employees. Dan Neenan is the director of NECAS at Northeast Iowa Community College.

Neenan does a lot of training for local fire departments as well as working closely with farm safety training and events.

The information below includes highlights from NECAS as printed on their website.

The concern for safety in rural areas goes beyond farms. The need for services spreads from citrus groves in the South to vineyards in the West. It covers cattle ranches in Wyoming, fisheries in Maine and thousands of ventures in between.

NECAS offers training and rescue programs for a variety of topics and also provides webinars to increase awareness for agricultural safety. The training and rescue programs have resulted in 19 lives saved nationwide.‌

Each year since 1944, the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety & Health Week. This recognition has been an annual promotion initiated by the National Safety Council and has been proclaimed as such by each sitting U.S. President since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first document. Over the years, the development and dissemination of National Farm Safety & Health Week materials has shifted to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety. NECAS is the agricultural partner of the National Safety Council and has been serving families and businesses in agriculture since 1997.

The 2019 theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week is “Shift Farm Safety into High Gear”.

Mental Health issues in farming

Quite often farmers struggle under the pressures of events that others find easy to handle. Other times some farmers can go on in spite of the stress load they carry.

Director Neenan noted that mental health issues are especially evident among dairy farmers. He said, “With milk prices at an extremely low level, many area farmers are struggling to make ends meet. Suicide among farmers is becoming more of a problem as the issues increase. There is help out there. Take the time to talk to someone or call your doctor. Never suffer alone."

Farm family members can manage their stress well – even during planting and harvesting. The key is to be flexible and to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Make time daily to take care of yourself, for your work is vital to everyone.

(Editor’s note: Much of the information in this article is reprinted from University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Leaflet Robert J. Fetsch, Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University)

Read more in the September 25 publication of the Postville Herald.