Harvest and road sign

Keeping farmers safe during harvest

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — it’s fall! The weather is becoming more crisp and cool, the days of summer are gone, and you’ve probably been seeing more farmers out on the roadways. If you haven’t, you should expect to see more slow-moving farm equipment over the next few weeks.

Our farmers depend on the highways to grow and harvest food and fiber, and it’s critical that each of us does our part to ensure they make it home to their loved ones every night.

As much as I love the privacy and beauty the crops offer in the neighboring field and as much as I dread winter creeping in on us, watching fall harvest makes my soul happy. There is something about the roar of the combines, choppers and tractors that makes me feel like all is well in the world.

Harvest is beautiful — but it is hard for the farmers and the farm families. Long days and nights harvesting the very crops that will become the food, fuel, and fiber that you consume and use every single day is a lot of responsibility.

Harvest can make or break a family farm, so it should be no surprise to know that these are high-stress times. High stress doesn’t have to be dangerous — and you can help.

Keep your distance

It is important that drivers realize that the equipment used to harvest is big and heavy. It isn’t always easy to see around machinery and there are many blind spots. The closer you are, the less likely farmers are to see you. They can’t stop that equipment on a dime so keep your distance all the way around the farmer. You don’t want to hit them, and I can promise you, they don’t want to hit you.

Be observant

Know your surroundings. If the farmer is approaching fields, there may be a good chance they need to turn. Don’t pass in those areas. Watch for hand signals from the farmer or turn signals and lights. Farmers may use their hands to signal you that it is safe to pass or that they are turning. Also, the deer and wildlife are loving fall as well, so their movement is unpredictable. Being alert can save a life.

Be kind

With so much ugliness in the world these days, just be kind. Give the farmers a smile and a wave. They likely have been sitting in that cab for hours and even more likely haven’t seen their friends and families for more than a moment in days. If you’re feeling really generous, drop off some simple food like pizza, sandwiches, snacks, or just a drink. It’s the perfect time to feed the farmers who work so hard to feed us. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Be patient

Getting behind slow-moving equipment isn’t going to slow you down any more than a few minutes. Farmers will get out of your way as soon as there is a safe place to do so. Life doesn’t slow down for anyone, so take the time to jam to your favorite song, call your mama or just enjoy the view. Your time isn’t worth someone else’s life.

Here’s to hoping for a safe and prosperous harvest!

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, an Ohio Farm Bureau organization director serving Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull Counties. She can be reached by email.

OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.