By Mike Jaspers
South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture
Along with the changing of the colors, bawling calves and matured crops mean harvest is here. It’s time to get the combine into the field, and for most farmers, that means driving large, slow moving equipment down our state, county and township roads.
Farming is a dangerous profession and when equipment takes to the roadway, it gets even more dangerous for farmers and those with whom they share the road. At times it can be frustrating to travel in South Dakota during harvest time, but I would remind everyone that it’s all of our responsibility to ensure safety on the roads. Farm equipment should be equipped with “slow moving vehicle” signs, flashing lights or both to make them more visible. Please slow down when you see these warning signs. Often, the driver will pull to the side so you can safely go around or their destination might be just ahead.
My fellow farmers and I need to be patient as well. Even though, we’re up against time and the weather, it’s important to wait for oncoming traffic to go by before pulling out onto the roadway. We have to stay aware of our surroundings at the farm and in the fields. That caution should extend to the roadways that we share with our friends and neighbors.
The roadway isn’t the only place we need to stay alert and use caution. Having on-farm grain storage can help a farmer market grain when the price is best or to store grain for livestock feed. However, grain bins can also be a deadly hazard. It can take less than five seconds to become trapped in flowing grain and less than 30 seconds to become fully engulfed. As producers, we need to take precautions when working in grain bins. It’s important to never enter a bin alone or make sure that someone is outside to help if something should happen.
To me, harvest is the most rewarding time of year. We can see the result of all the hard work that was put in during the previous months. Whether you’re a producer or a consumer of the crops we’re working to harvest, please join me in making sure this harvest isn’t remembered for tragedy, but for prosperity.