We all hope warm weather will be returning to our area soon. As soon as that happens producers will be eager to be in the fields preparing the soil and planting the crops for 2007.
Safety has to become our first priority during this busy time for everyone's well being. According to the Ohio State Extension service, the odds that you could be involved in a farm machinery accident on public roads increases each year due to the following:
Motor vehicle traffic increases annually.
Fewer people have farm backgrounds and understand the caution necessary when approaching farm equipment on the roadway.
Farming operations continue to get larger requiring operators to travel greater distances on roadways between fields.
Farm equipment has become larger and can extend into the opposite lane of traffic far beyond the tractor.
Here is a question for you: If a car is traveling 55 mph and a tractor is traveling 15 mph, how long does it take for the car to make up the 400-foot distance between them? The answer is seven seconds. Not a lot of time for the driver of the car to slow down, unless there is sufficient warning. The slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem, a florescent orange triangle with retroreflective borders does just that. It warns approaching vehicles to slow down.
The SMV emblem is required by the Ohio Revised Code when moving "implements of husbandry" and farm machinery on public roadways. Implements of husbandry are vehicles designed and adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural, or livestock-raising operations. Additionally, SMV emblems are required on other specific vehicles.
To be effective, it is critical that SMV emblems be clean and visible. If wagons or towed implements obscure the SMV emblem on the tractor, the rearmost wagon or implement needs to have an SMV emblem in place. Also, a faded SMV emblem may no longer attract the attention of an oncoming motorist and should be replaced. Producers must do everything they can to make themselves visible.
As you travel the roads in the early morning and twilight hours be sure others can see you. The Ohio Revised Code requires tractors and other self-propelled equipment to display the following lighting 30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise for all tractors and self-propelled equipment:
One white headlight on the front of the vehicle, visible from at least 1,000 feet in front of the vehicle.
Two red lamps as wide apart as possible on the rear of the vehicle, visible from at least 1,000 behind the vehicle or one light and two red reflectors.
During the same time frame, the Ohio Revised Code requires the following lighting for all towed equipment:
If towed implements or wagon obscure the red rear lamps of the tractor, the rearmost towed implement or wagon must have one red lamp mounted on it.
Two red reflectors.
To increase the odds that you will be seen add reflective material to your farm equipment in front, back, and on the sides. Reflective material is not required by state law, but recent research has shown that it dramatically improves visibility. There were over 2,500 farm related highway accidents in which 842 persons were injured and 33 killed in the last five years according to the Ohio Department of Highway Safety.
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Final loan date set: Producers are reminded that the final commodity loan and LDP availability date for 2006 crop year corn and soybeans will be May 31.
There was no LDP established for corn in 2006 and very few days in September and October when a small LDP was available for soybeans. Commodity loans are still available on both crops but must be requested by May 31. Commodity loans through FSA are for a nine month period and provide an excellent source of funds for operating expenses at a low interest rate.
Diana Strouse is the county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency. For more information, call the agency at (419) 668-4113.