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Baseball star Nolan Ryan now pitching farm safety
Indiana Correspondent

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — During baseball’s spring training, a batter gets three strikes before striking out.

But in agriculture’s spring planting season and beyond, one mistake can cost a farmer his life or the life of a loved one.

Nolan Ryan, Hall of Fame pitcher and rancher, speaks out for Farm Bureau to urge farm and ranch families to review safety practices during Agriculture Safety Awareness Week March 5-11.

“Safety is a big part of preparing my ranch for the busy times ahead and preventing injuries is a good way to have a truly successful season,” Ryan said.

“Making sure all safety features are up-to-date, in place and in good condition is one place to start. Another is establishing a plan for emergency situations and reviewing it with our family and employees.”

Bill Field, an ag safety specialist with the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, said every year his office receives reports of people run over by farm machinery.

“If you look at the last 30 years of data, the primary cause of death on farms is tractor overturns, followed by being run over by an implement or tractor,” he said. “Many of these cases involve older people or children who are around the machine.”

Field said most injuries happen when children go into the field or when someone goes out to convey a message, visit or ride along with the farmer. Farm families can stay safe by taking precautions. Young children are especially prone to exploring for curiosity’s sake or because they’re following a family member, Field said.

“There’s a growing emphasis on trying to provide safe play areas for children so they don’t wander out into the field,” he said.

When it’s necessary to visit the field, call ahead to alert the operator, Field said.

“If you’re driving out to the field, make sure your vehicle isn’t parked where they can’t see it. Also, rather than going into the center of the acreage, wait at the end of a row where the farmer is going to be slowing down and making some turns,” he said. “Then stand somewhere off to the side so they can clearly see you.”

The machinery operator also can help avoid injuries by taking a few safety precautions before starting up and driving off. The consequences of not checking around machinery can be devastating.

“Do a walk around before starting up the machine, especially on something that you can’t see all the way around from the operator’s station,” Field said.

The Farm Bureau Safety and Health Network, made up of professionals affiliated with state Farm Bureaus, worked with Ryan to develop the 2006 theme, Step Up to the Plate for Farm Safety to call attention to safety as farmers and ranchers prepare for the year ahead. The network’s website - - has information available for distribution, including public service announcements by Ryan and other safety information.

Safety preparations require that parents and grandparents coach children, their own and visitors, on rules such as the “no extra riders” policy on tractors and equipment and being alert around farm animals.

“Farm families need to be reminded about slowing down and taking proper safety precautions,” said Marilyn Adams, founder and spokesperson for Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

At the organization’s website,, visitors can find games, activities, coloring pages and other resources to help farm children play and learn about safety.

This farm news was published in the March 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.