Our farmers and ranchers are a hard-working society; we owe them our thanks for all they do to feed our country. At times, we may wish we lived on a farm or ranch, away from city life and its’ congestion, noise, and stress. But our farm and ranch workers are also exposed to many types of hazards:
- Machinery and equipment, causing hearing loss; hearing loss is prevalent among farmers who are exposed to loud and continuous noise from equipment, or when hearing protection is ignored.
- Ultraviolet rays from the sun;
- Respiratory problems caused by toxic gases and dusts from silos, livestock confinement facilities.
- Agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides and anhydrous ammonia, which can cause health problems.
- Safety and health standards are not enforced on family farms, due to special exemptions provided to agriculture. Therefore, as unregulated small businesses, farmers and ranchers are unintentionally exposed to hazards.
Even though they face these and many other hazards, farmers and ranchers have immense pride in what they do. Many work land that has been in their families for generations; they have consumers depending on them to furnish food and dairy products and animals that depend on them to keep them healthy. They don’t punch a time clock – their schedule usually goes from sunrise to sunset. Long ago, windmills were the farmers’ way of pumping water, and they used solar energy long before it became the “green” thing to do.
Recently, there was a news report that a group of dairy farmers were in danger of losing their farms due to the economic situation. They created a new co-op type of farm, working together to keep things going. That’s they way our American farmers are, determined and tough. We need to think about their contribution to our way of life and let them know they are very much appreciated.