Letters to the Editor week of 9-29-11


Family farm safety

To the editor:

As harvest is underway in the Hoosier heartland, how fortunate we are to benefit from the hard work and dedication of America’s farmers.

“National Farm Safety and Health Week” is this month. As we reflect on the agricultural abundance we enjoy in Indiana and this Nation, let’s acknowledge the risk inherent in this occupation. As these hard working men and women are creating this agricultural abundance – food, feed, fuel and fiber – over the next several months, they must be ever-vigilant for their own safety.

From their toil on farms, we have an abundance of healthy food to sustain us and make our lives enjoyable and a wealth of materials for clothing and manufactured products. Every day our lives are touched and enriched by the fruits of their labors. Indiana’s farm families are among the most productive in the world.

An amazing bounty is produced on the idyllic family farms we picture in our minds. But while living and working on a farm might seem like an entirely wholesome and stress free existence, there are few jobs in America that are more dangerous.

The National Safety Council consistently ranks agriculture as one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States.

A recent survey by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service showed 200,000 work-related injuries occurred on U.S. farms annually. Farm family members accounted for 65-percent of those injuries. We often think of dangerous jobs as firefighters, police officers, or miners. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, agriculture faces an extremely high fatality rate of nearly four for every 10,000 farmers.

Only fishermen, loggers and aircraft pilots have occupational fatality rates that are higher.

Dangers built into agricultural work include harsh weather, difficult environmental conditions, operation of heavy machinery and equipment and working with dangerous materials and chemicals. Tractor roll-overs and ATV accidents continue to be responsible for a great number of adult and adolescent farm fatalities on our Nation’s farms. Accidents happen in any field, but in agriculture, accidents frequently can be fatal.

I fondly look back on my childhood on the farm and cherish the hours spent riding on the tractor with my dad, or taking care of the Angus cattle herd. I still marvel at how quickly he then, and still today, can plant a crop, bale a field of hay or sort cattle. I also remember the fear I have had many times with the “close calls” on the farm with either the crop or livestock operation. He could easily have been severely injured. Our family farm does its best to practice farm safety every day.

My dad has been lucky, but others have not been. For every serious agricultural injury, the victim will have experienced 10 close calls and 30 cases of personal property damage. It is so easy to become complacent in daily farm work that safety basics can be overlooked. Farm safety has to be constantly reinforced.

Please join with me in expressing our appreciation and gratitude to our farmers and farm families for their phenomenal contribution to our very well being. At the USDA Farm Service Agency, we are taking this opportunity during harvest to raise the awareness of farm safety to help them stay safe, healthy, and on the job. After all, it is the very practice of farm safety that sustains the health of our Nation’s farm families. Here’s wishing all Indiana farmers a productive and safe harvest.

Julia A. Wickard, Executive Director,

Indiana Farm Service Agency


To the Editor:

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and I had a strange feeling that something was going on. Everyone was very quiet and just not laughing and not being as upbeat as usual but no one said a word to make me think there was a problem.

When I got home that evening Carla said, “What do you think about Dr. Willage’s office closing?”

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather as I started asking Carla what was going on. She said all I know is King’s Daughters’ Hospital said the clinic wasn’t bringing in enough money so they are closing the office of Dr. Willage in Vevay. “Oh, this can’t be,” I said, “how can we not have Dr. Willage and his staff?

For so many years we have had him as a doctor and now just like that he will no longer be here.

He was not only our health care provider but truly a dear friend – someone who took that extra minute to listen – someone who cared about what happened to his patients, their daily lives as well as their physical needs.

It breaks my heart to think of all the people who depend on him for their health care needs who will no longer be able to get to a doctor as many live in Vevay and walk to his office and to older clients who are very ill and feel like they don’t want to change doctors.

Any time I have gone to Dr. Willage there are always people waiting to see him in the waiting room – what is going to happen – is Dr. Frede going to be able to take on hundreds of new patients and do people want to go to him.

I hope King’s Daughters’ Hospital opens their eyes and realize what they are doing to people in Switzerland County.

Eighteen years Dr. Willage has faithfully served the community and now they say he is not bringing in enough money through his office.

Each time I go across the hilltop to Madison and see the new hospital being built I think money, money, money.

Would the folks who have the power to close the Vevay Clinic please stop and reconsider w hat you are doing to a lot of folks and to a man who has given so much of himself to a community because he loves his work and he cares deeply for each and every one of his patients.

Betty Griswold