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MDA encourages safety and awareness this upcoming harvest season

Be smart and be safe.

That's the message from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) as many farmers across Minnesota gear up for fall harvest. In observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week September 19-25, MDA is offering tips and advice to ensure all Minnesotans are safe, whether harvesting fields or encountering farm equipment on roadways.

According to federal and state statistics, farming is one of the most dangerous professions. Last year 18 of the 60 work-related deaths in the state were in the ag industry, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

Roadways may be just as dangerous for producers and non-farmers alike, as equipment is transported and grain is hauled from fields. Of the more than 180,000 people involved in crashes in Minnesota in 2009, 156 were involved in a crash with a tractor or other farm equipment. Those crashes resulted in 29 injuries and three deaths.

MDA Commissioner Gene Hugoson says recent headlines serve as a reminder of the importance of reviewing and implementing safety practices.

"Over the past year, we've heard several stories of farmers dying in grain bin accidents or being seriously hurt or killed while operating farm equipment," Hugoson said. "Harvest is a very busy time for Minnesota's farmers, but taking time to follow safe practices on the farm and on the road could prevent serious injury or death."

MDA is highlighting a wide range of farm safety topics this season, including road safety, child safety on the farm, mental health resources, proper livestock and grain handling and guidelines for reducing physical stress.

Safety tips will be available on MDA's website at, Facebook page at and Twitter feed at