Friday, September 25, 2015

The Ironic Twist to Farm Safety Week

So this week was/is Farm Safety Week, and like Daughter's Day, I forgot to post about it (Sorry five daughters I have...I DO love you!). While it's imperative to be safe at all times on the farm, especially with children and PTO shafts and augers and combines and all that, I think it's also good to be protected from a political level as well.

With our new governor in place, we in Illinois thought we were being heard, safe even. Our new governor, who shall remain nameless, as I don't even want to utter his name, appointed great Director of Agriculture. The former Illinois Farm Bureau President and farmer, Philip Nelson was asked to join the staff, and the agricultural world in Illinois shouted, AMEN! My family is familiar and friendly with Mr. Nelson, as my dad has a working relationship with him. He's a great guy. A true class act. A farmer with a passion for policy and a working understanding of what it is truly like in the trenches of farm life.

Great, huh?

Well, not so much.

Because I live in Illinois, I am jaded to sketchy politics, so this should come to no surprise.

Phillip Nelson was forced to resign yesterday. Not a lot of details are coming out- shocker, I know-but I guess what hits me the most is that agriculture had a voice. It was being heard. Action was being taken.

We were safe.


Obviously farming is dangerous to life and limb thanks to big equipment, chemicals (gasp) that are used, and animals that do in fact outweigh folks by at least 1000 pounds. That's the easy definition of the dangers of farming and the importance of farm safety. However, the dangers of policy and bureaucracy and regulations and interest groups are becoming more and more of a threat to farmers.

So we need a voice.

We had a voice.

And that voice is silent.

I am so disheartened. I feel like the rug has been once again pulled out from beneath us as producers, and that in a state that is filled with combines and corn fields and cattle, we as agriculturalists are unheard. Silenced in the political realm thanks to our shady politicians and connection to that big city to the north (which I do love, sweet home Chicago, but there ARE families south of I-80).

Shouldn't Illinois try to not be a joke politically? Shouldn't we quit playing the game? Shouldn't we try to get the right people in and keep them there until the mess of our budget and state is complete?

Shouldn't we feel safe in our profession, the very profession that surrounds all of our big cities and creates jobs and livelihoods that are amazing and lucrative and last generations?

I have been an Illinoisan for my whole life, and embarrassed by it for my entire adulthood. We should feel safe and represented and want people to move here.

Not looking for a way to move out.

Share your thoughts. I feel like our voice is loud, but is not being heard, almost like we're yelling behind a Plexiglas wall. But those walls can be broken, and I urge you to use your voice, however you can, and bring our safe feeling, our feeling of being heard, back to the forefront.

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