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Communicating for Safety

Libby Eiholzer, Bilingual Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 6, 2014

Communicating for Safety

There are many risks inherent in working on a dairy farm. People, animals, trucks, tractors, mixer wagons and manure spreaders are among the host of moving objects that create potentially hazardous situations. It?s really a wonder that more accidents don?t take place on dairy farms! Even if your farm has never been subject to an accident, it?s a good idea to take into consideration some preventative measures to keep everyone - human and bovine - safe on your dairy every day.

Dairy farm employees from rural Mexico or Guatemala have often never operated machinery before. Many things that people who have grown up on a tractor seat take for granted as common sense can be very foreign to them. For example, what speed is acceptable in different areas of the farm? What hidden dangers are associated with driving a skid steer near manure storage? When training new employees to operate machinery, take time within the first few days to review important safety basics.

So what are the most important things for these employees to know as they learn to operate machinery? Something I've heard time and time again from managers is that they need to know when something breaks in order to fix it. All too often they find out the tractor has a flat tire when they need to use it; if their employees had let them know when it happened, then they could have made time to fix it and avoided frustration. Besides being a communication issue, broken machinery and installations can pose a threat on the farm to people and animals, especially when passersby are unaware of them. Managers, in turn, need to place a high priority on repairs so employees will continue to communicate. It's also important for managers to show their employees their appreciation for speaking up; nobody likes admitting they have broken something, so making the experience as painless as possible encourages them to come communicate these problems in the future.

Managers? expectations for what maintenance machinery operators will perform on equipment varies from farm to farm, so the best thing to do is make those expectations very clear. Managers need to be very explicit about what needs to be done and why, as it may not be something that the employee has ever done before (check oil, grease, wash, fill with gas). Gas and diesel tanks should be clearly marked, and any necessary tools kept somewhere where they can be found.

A good way to increase everyone?s awareness of safety issues is to offer farm safety training to your employees. In many states NIOSH Agricultural Safety and Health Centers offer free safety trainings, sometimes in Spanish and English. Visit their website to see if trainings are available in your area: (

*Amended from an article that appeared in the May 2013 issue of El Lechero.











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

2019 Corn Silage Pre-Harvest Workshop - Penn Yan

September 17, 2019
10:00am to Noon
Penn Yan, NY

Corn silage harvest is drawing near. The way corn silage is harvested and stored is a single event that affects your operation for the entire next year. Are you prepared to set your operation up for success? 
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Ontario County Fun on the Farm

September 21, 2019
11:00 am- 4:00 pm
Seneca Castle, NY

Fun on the Farm works to educate non-farm public and our neighbors about agriculture around them. It is fun and educational.

Fun on the Farm attracts thousands of people and gives us the opportunity to communicate to the community the benefits of the agricultural production in Ontario County, the state, and the nation.

The event is free! There are many agricultural products that are available to be sampled. It is the perfect place to try that product you have seen in the store but didn't want to commit to purchasing.

Food is available to purchase for lunch. It is provided by a local service group.
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Bovine Reproduction and AI Training Course

September 24 - September 25, 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
Shortsville, NY


This two-day AI workshop will be held on September 24 and 25. 

Topics covered will include:

• Reproductive Physiology
• Synchronization Protocols
• Heat Detection
• Artificial Insemination
• Proper Thawing of Semen
• Loading A.I. guns
• Practice Breeding Cows

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Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

If you're wondering how to get your farm business in compliance with NYS Sexual Harassment Regulations, you've come to the right place.  The 2018 New York State budget included new regulations addressing sexual harassment in the workplace that became effective on October 9, 2018 for all New York employers, including agricultural employers. All employers are required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy and to provide annual, interactive sexual harassment prevention training for all employees.  Check out the resources developed by Cornell Ag Workforce Development, including step-by-step instructions and farm-friendly training videos.

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."