President Obama has declared this week as National Farm Safety and Health Week, urging awareness of the day-to-day risks in agricultural work.

“Our Nation's prosperity has been built on the skill and productivity of our farmers and Ranchers,” Obama states in the official declaration. "Two centuries ago, many American families toiled in fields and grasslands so that they might feed themselves. Today, those in the agricultural sector provide food, fiber, biofuels, and many other life necessities for millions across our Nation and around the world. The hard work and talent of those in the agricultural industry, and continued advances in technology and efficiency, have provided great security to the United States.

“As they offer great benefits to our Nation, farmers and ranchers also face significant risks in the course of their everyday duties. They often transport and operate heavy and hazardous equipment and work in extreme weather conditions. Farmers may be exposed to pesticides, fertilizers, chemicals, and dust that can be harmful to human health. They also work in dangerous areas such as wells, silos, and grain elevators. These individuals must take great precautions to protect their health and safety, especially since rural residents may have to travel long distances to receive trauma care for an accident related injury. They must also take particular care to avoid accidents involving children.

“As the fall harvest season approaches, I encourage farm and ranch families and workersto participate in farm safety and health programs. I also encourage them to follow optimal farm safety and health practices. Businesses and communities, and organizations and neighbors, can encourage one another to understand the risks of this work so that we can prevent accidents, prevent exposure to potential hazards, and save lives.”

Click here for the full declaration.

The NationalEducationalCenter for Agricultural Safety, based in Iowa, offers a wealth of information for farmers, and also works to educate the general public about safety on rural roads where farmers operate agricultural equipment. Visit their Web site for more information.