Attendees of a farm safety breakfast in Bloomington watch a grain engulfment demonstration at the Asmark AgriCenter. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
BLOOMINGTON – Farmers attending a farm safety breakfast Wednesday at the Asmark AgriCenter in Bloomington got some important reminders about dangerous situations on the farm.
The program is in its third year and this year included three rotating sessions on anhydrous ammonia safety, grain handling safety and farm accident response.
“We all know that we’re in a pretty stressful environment during the busy season, and sometimes if we have this training now, it makes us slow down a little bit and think while we’re doing it,” said Don Immke, secretary-treasurer with the Livingston County Farm Bureau. “At the end of the day, we want to be able to go home to our families safe and everything, and we want to be good stewards for the environment. We want to do what’s right for the ground and keep the drinking water safe and be able to efficiently grow crops to feed the nation and the world.”
Immke pointed out that technology continues to change and keeping up on that with regard to safety is also important. Education is an important part of the mission of county Farm Bureaus and that’s part of the reason for a program like this. Farmers need to be prepared for a number of possible scenarios on the farm and in the field.
“Sure enough, last year we had a fire on one of the tractors and my husband didn’t realize what to do. They gave out extinguishers last year so, if it wasn’t for that extinguisher, yes, we probably wouldn’t have a combine today,” said Marie Denzer-Farley, board member with the McLean County Farm Bureau.
The new Asmark AgriCenter is equipped with very specific materials for safety training. Kevin Runkle with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association told participants during his presentation that 75 percent of the anhydrous ammonia applied in the United States goes on fields within a 5-hour drive of Bloomington. The facility is equipped to do extensive three-day training for agriculture retailers and others who must be certified to apply the product. Runkle said last year there were nearly 60 unintentional releases of anhydrous in Illinois, resulting in 18 hospitalizations. All were farm-related accidents.
The Asmark AgriCenter also contains a number of grain handling safety demonstrations. John Lee with the Illinois Grain and Feed Association simulated a grain engulfment and a grain dust explosion for participants. Several Illinois groups have formed the Grain Handling Safety Coalition to further educate about the dangers of working in and around grain bins.
Members of the Normal Fire Department presented on first response procedures, and farmers learned more about protecting their hearing from Dr. Natalie McKee of Bloomington-Normal Audiology.
The program was coordinated by the McLean and Livingston County Farm Bureaus along with Prairie Central Cooperative and a grant from the Illinois Farm Bureau and Country Financial.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.