QUEENSTOWN — Fall harvest season has officially begun across Maryland. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 7% of Maryland corn has been harvested for grain, 14% less than 2019 harvest progress this same time last year.

Maryland Grain Producers Association said, during harvest season, it is important to raise awareness about a number of safety topics: road safety, grain bin safety, and equipment safety. In1944, President Roosevelt proclaimed the third week of September to be National Farm Safety and Health Week. According to the 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, working in agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Keeping the people who produce our food, fuel, and fiber safe is important.

For those traveling in Maryland, please keep an eye out for farmers on the road. Slow moving equipment will have an orange reflective sign, also known as a slow moving vehicle sign. Prepare to slow down and pass with care when safe to do so. It only takes eight seconds to close a gap the length of a football field when traveling 30 mph more than the slow moving vehicle in front of you. Some of these vehicles are large and hard to see around; wait for a safe passing zone before passing farm equipment.

For farmers, please be sure your slow moving signs are on all pieces of equipment traveling 25 mph or under and that signs are properly positioned. When traveling on the road ensure your four-way flashers are on and use blinkers as appropriate, especially when making a left turn. When traveling at night, be sure to have running lights on.

It is also important to recognize grain bin safety for those filling bins this fall. Before adding a new crop, ensure the previous crop is loaded out and the floor, ducts and fans are cleaned. As the new crop is augered in, please make sure all employees are aware of the lock out/tag out system. Furthermore, with colder weather ensure all clothes fit snug to your body and stay a safe distance from the Power Take-Off (PTO) shaft. It only takes a second for one to be entangled, Maryland Grain Producers Association cautions.

Lastly, to keep you safe in the field be sure to look over your equipment to check for dust build-up, bird nests, and other fire hazards. The organization urges farmers to take the extra step to look over and blow off their equipment. Finally, ensure all pieces of equipment have proper fire extinguishers for emergencies as well. It is recommended to have a 10 pound dry chemical, multi-purpose ABC extinguisher in tractors and a 2.5 gallon pressurized water extinguisher in combines.

If a farmer ever needs someone to talk to please use the Farm Aid Hotline at 800-327-6243 or the Farm Crisis Hotline at 866-586-6746.

As you travel row by row, share a photo on social media and be sure to tag one of Maryland Grain Producers Association’s pages or post with #MDGrain and #Harvest20.

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