The International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health urges everyone involved in agriculture to recognize National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 16-22, and promote awareness of safety solutions year round.
This year's theme, "Agricultural Safety and Health … A Family Affair," focuses on the family farm.
"Although farming in many regions is moving toward larger operations, a great percentage of the agricultural industry is still based on the family unit," said ISASH President George Cook, University of Vermont. "The protection and well-being of farm family members remains one of the guiding principles of ISASH."
Agriculture is more than seven times as hazardous as other U.S. industries, with 621 fatalities in 2010, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injury.
In his official proclamation Friday, President Obama said farmers and ranchers put in many hours and accomplish difficult tasks.
"Many [farmers and ranchers] operate heavy machinery, handle livestock, and work under hazardous conditions," the proclamation said. "Because the demands of the job put agricultural workers at high risk of illness and injury, appropriate training and education are critical. I encourage all farming and ranching families to participate in farm safety and health programs, remain aware of the hazards of their working environment, and carry out safe practices every step of the way."
The President reminded Americans that the week was needed also to celebrate agricultural workers' contributions.
Another farm safety organization, Farm Safety 4 Just Kids celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this year. The organization supports several regional chapters and provides educational materials and support for farm safety training. FS4JK is encouraging farmers and agricultural professionals to promote the week by using the hashtag #FSHW12 on Twitter.
The timely arrival of Farm Safety Week coincides with the ongoing drought and early harvest. A renewed focus on safety may be increasingly important as risks of combine and machinery fires increase with the growing prevalence of dry fodder and chaff.