Safety Takes Center Stage At Farm Bureau Event
March 31, 2012
JEFFERSON -- Maryland's only farm safety camp, operated by the Frederick County Farm Bureau, was the focus of the bureau's annual spring meeting Tuesday.
Agriculture is the most hazardous occupation in the United States, and the leading causes of farm-related deaths include machinery, motor vehicles, electrocution, environmental hazards and falling objects, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service.
In an average year, 110 American farmworkers are crushed to death in tractor rollovers, making tractors the leading cause of death in agriculture, according to the service.
Continuing the safety camp is a priority for the 2,800-member farm bureau, President Ray Ediger said.
Since the 1970s, the county bureau has operated a farm safety program. The program has evolved over the years and has been described as a model for other programs in the Free State, Ediger said.
Lisa Gaver, who led the program for 15 years with Jane Smith and Mary Jane Roop, said her children benefited from it.
"I've often heard my kids refer to what they learned at safety camp while they are working on the farm, so it sticks with them," said Gaver, who co-owns Gaver Tree Farm in Mount Airy with her husband, Mike.
The acronym for the bureau's program is SAFE, for Stay Accident Free Everyday.
Farm bureau members listened Tuesday to a PowerPoint presentation about the program by safety committee chairwoman Amy Jo Poffenberger and committee members Karen Crum and Mike Poffenberger.
Amy Jo Poffenberger credited Jean Smith for pioneering the safety program.
Poffenberger became chairwoman of the committee in 2010. In 2011, the camp expanded from a one-day overnight event at the 4-H Camp Center to three days.
This year's safety lessons will include such topics as search and rescue, how to operate a chain saw, and helmet, fishing and animal safety.
The camp's $25 cost does not cover expenses, but the program has generous donors and sponsors, Poffenberger said.
Last year, the camp was opened to children from neighboring counties, drawing several from Montgomery County. About 20 campers have signed up so far this year.
Farmers are dealing with a number of issues, Ediger said, including a state septic bill, heritage tax, lawsuits, development lots on farms and deer hunting. He urged the bureau's members to sign up with a committee to discuss these issues.
Maryland Farm Bureau Vice President Chuck Fry brought greetings from the state organization. State lobbying efforts are proceeding, he said, and the state organization met with Gov. Martin O'Malley on the septic issue.
"The governor was listening to us, but that doesn't mean anything will happen," Fry said. "For the life of me, I just don't think they get what (farmers) do for the country."
- Source: Ike Wilson, FrederickNewsPost.com
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