Expert shares resources for safe family ranching

One reader’s message is a sobering reminder that farm and ranch safety must be a top priority, especially when young children are present.

Amanda Radke

October 23, 2017

4 Min Read
Expert shares resources for safe family ranching
Amanda Radke

Yesterday, we wrapped up the “Ranch work, ranch life” photo contest, where we highlighted hard-working ranching families who make their living from land and livestock while raising their kids to appreciate the business and lifestyle.

We had an amazing collection of images that I’m proud to share. I believe they capture the spirit of the American rancher and what he holds dear; however, I received an email from one reader who saw another side of some of the images and wanted to discuss the importance of farm and ranch safety and accident prevention.

READ: Don't be a statistic; practice farm safety

The email was from LaMar Grafft, associate director at the North Carolina Aeromedicine Institute and former rancher, 25-year paramedic, Extension livestock specialist and farm safety specialist.

With Grafft’s permission, here is an excerpt from that email conversation.


Another great set of photos, as always. Some of the submissions are nothing short of amazing. The brilliance and clarity, composition and lighting are incredible. I have to vent for a moment, however. I can admit that I can view some of the photos and say, ‘Isn’t that cute!’ but at the same time, several of them make me cringe.

“I get the pictures and the lifestyle—I lived it. And my work since 1986 has always been with farmers. But a lot of people simply do not understand the exposures and what it can do to their loved ones.

“No one starts the day thinking they are going to kill their child, or even that the events of the day will injure them. And yet 100 kids per year die on farms and ranches across the U.S. While none of them likely die in a photo shoot, I suspect some of them die doing similar things as depicted in some of the photos submitted.

READ: Reminders for a safe harvest season

“Sometimes farmers and ranchers tell me that they need to involve their children in order to keep them on the farm. That if they grow up doing the jobs, they have a better understanding of what goes on, and a better appreciation for the occupation and life that is agriculture. While I understand that, I have to point out that another occupation in the U.S. has a similar following, with several generations following in the footsteps of their ancestors.

Firefighters frequently have this long history, and at least with the professional side of the occupation, their kids are anxious to participate. But they don’t take their kids into burning buildings so they can know the job and be excited to follow in their parents’ occupation. I am convinced that the reason they want to be there is the discussion around the table each and every night. It isn’t gloom and doom about prices and weather and regulations. It’s upbeat stories of the value of the job and the good things that were done that day. That, after all, is why people love their jobs. Because they can see the good they do. Isn’t that really the best of what farming and ranching is?”

Grafft’s words are sobering and with the busy fall season — weaning, harvesting and winterizing — there are many risks that come with this work. We must be diligent and aware of the potential dangers and educate our children on these threats.

READ: Don't shrug off farm cuts and scrapes

To get a better picture of the dangers, take a look at some recent headlines Grafft shared with me: One-year old boy drowned in farm pond; Two-year old dies in farm accident; Three injured in tractor and car crash; Eight-year old girl falls into empty grain bin; Three-year old killed in tragic farm machine accident; Boy injured in ATV crash; Three-year old dies in farm accident; 13-month old girl run over by tractor dies; Services set for four-year old victim of ATV crash; Man injured in tractor accident near Seminole (child driver).

To sum it up, Grafft shared several resources that could be beneficial for farming and ranching families to reference as they work to ensure their children and families remain safe when working and living on a ranch. Check them out below:

National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety from Marshfield Clinic Research Institute

National Farm Medicine Center

Farm safety needs to be a top priority from N.C. Department of Labor

Childhood Agricultural Safety Network

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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