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Farmers encouraged to think safety this harvest season

ELKHART, Iowa – This year Iowa farmers are going to harvest a big crop. And that means grain safety will be a big issue.

According to the last crop production report, USDA forecasts a bushel of corn this year to be worth between $3.55-$4.25/bushel, while soybeans will be worth between $9.55-$11.55/bushel. But not one kernel or seed is worth the life of a single farmer.

On Saturday Polk County firefighters met at Brad Moeckly’s farm in Elkhart in central Iowa for a grain engulfment demonstration.

In order to save someone trapped in grain, firefighters use several metal plates which together form a tube; once pushed down into the grain the apparatus relieves pressure on the individual, and rescuers can then dig him or her out. Moeckley says it can all go wrong in the blink of an eye.

“Once you’re waist deep in grain, it’s virtually impossible to get out,” Moeckly warns. “But the important thing is not to panic. And never enter a grain bin by yourself, always have someone there with you. But in the event that you are entrapped, time is of the essence.”

Moeckly also says grain safety should be a big priority for producers this harvest season, given this year’s big crop.

“We’re on record yield pace, here, and because of that, we have a lot of grain to deal with,” Moeckly explains, “which makes this scenario even more critical, because of the sheer volume of what we’re dealing with. Fall’s always a busy time for farmers. And we just want to go about things in the correct way, in the right way.”

Moeckley says the nearby community has united to make grain safety more prominent this year; Polk County Farm Bureau organized the event, and local businesses chipped in to supply fire departments with the right gear.

“We hope this equipment in our lifetime gathers dust and never has to be used, but in the event that it does, we want to be equipped and ready,” says Moeckly.

To hear more about staying safe this harvest season, click the audio player at the top of this story.

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