Fayette County Safest Place to Farm?

Fayette County Safest Place to Farm?

Only county not to register a farm death since 1980.

Whether it's good fortune, poor reporting, or whether the farmers and farm families of Fayette County know something everyone else doesn't is hard to say. All Bill Field knows is that it's the only county in Indiana that does not show a death from a farm accident on his map which dates back more than 30 years.

The map contains about 750 red hearts, each one indicating a farm fatality. About 70 more couldn't be classified as to where they happened. The northern Indiana counties of LaGrange and Elkhart are smothered by red hearts, largely because of many Amish farming operations there. For a while about a decade ago, Amish children were at high risk for death in farm fatality accidents.

Even if Fayette County officially doesn't show a death, Field, the Purdue farm safety specialist, knows that county lines don't have an effect on whether an accident happens or not- instead, it's people and their actions. While the death count has steadily declined since he began his career some 30 years ago, farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, along with mining.

Field and his staff would like to take credit for bringing down the number of farm fatalities, and no doubt their educational efforts have helped. In reality though, he notes that the number of people on farms has declined just 1980 also, with fewer but bigger farms operated by fewer farmers and farm families.

And while Fayette County is still white on the red-heart-dotted map of where fatalities have been recorded, there have been close calls. Earlier this year, Indiana Prairie Farmer  reported the story that happened a couple of years ago to Fayette County native Gideon Nobbe. He was operating a custom application rig when his booms caught in a power line. He fell off the ladder, still sustaining injury but saving his life. Others in those types of accidents haven't been as fortunate.

And then there is Dave Buck, a Master Farmer, who died several years ago in a grain bin suffocation accident. Dave lived on the Wayne/Fayette County line. He perished in Wayne County, by about 100 yards or less.

So there's not likely a silver dome over Fayette County preventing its residents from fatalities. They need to practice safety habits just as much as anyone else, Field would conclude.

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