Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 5

RM

| PERSPECTIVES

H A RT TO H E A RT

Thank a farmer
by Barry Hart | bhart@amec.coop

T

his time of year, I am amazed at what goes on
at Missouri's nearly 100,000 family farms.
Whether it's a combination grain and livestock farm like the one Lewis County Rural
Electric Cooperative Director Larry Clark operates
with his sons, Matt and David, or a cow-calf operation that is Ozark Electric Cooperative Director O.D.
Cope's livelihood, spring can be an incredibly busy
time on the farm.
Few occupations require the gambles farmers
take every year. They are eternal optimists, dropping little seeds in the ground, then hoping against
reason for adequate rainfall at the right time. Crop
prices always seem to be low, and the slightest
political upheaval can make them worse since U.S.
farmers sell much of their crops overseas.
They breed livestock, only to lose a few each
year to predators. They might see a bumper crop of
wheat lost to hail or wildfire. When I see spring frost
in the weather forecast, my heart goes out to those
who own peach orchards like the Bader family in
Campbell, who are served by Ozark Border Electric
Cooperative. It doesn't take much frost to kill their
entire crop.
Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about the
Simpson family, members of Se-Ma-No Electric
Cooperative. This winter, hungry deer scaled the
woven wire fence surrounding the family's strawberry operation and destroyed half of the 2018 crop.
Yet they continue the tradition year after year for
the benefit of others.
I really don't know how our farmers handle this
adversity, but I know they do it willingly and well.
Life on the farm has its advantages, and those I
know would never trade it for a job in the city.
Unless you are part of the 2 percent of Missourians who earn their living off the land through farm-

ing, fisheries or forestry, you owe
a great debt to these hard-working
men, women - and yes, children -
for all they do.
A few statistics from the Missouri
Department of Agriculture highlight
the impact of agriculture on the
state's economy:
* Missouri has 99,971 farms.
Only one state, Texas, has more.
* Agriculture has an annual economic impact of $88.4 billion.
* Nearly 400,000 Missourians
are involved in agriculture and agrelated jobs.
* There are currently more than
60,000 highly skilled positions
available in the ag industry.
Each generation seems to be
moving farther and farther away
from the land. As a result, many
people have no idea what is involved
in ensuring you have a safe supply
of nutritious food.
Farmers - led by Missouri Ag Director Chris
Chinn, a fifth generation Missouri farmer from
Clarence - are working hard these days to educate consumers in a variety of ways. One is through
the state's 261 farmers markets, where you can buy
quality produce direct from the source while learning how it was grown.
Another trend is farm-to-table restaurants like
Farm to You Market in Washington, Missouri featured in the November 2017 issue of Rural Missouri.
Here Katie and Todd Geisert can tell you who raised
that steak you are about to eat.
The Missouri State Fair is another great place to
learn about agriculture and to meet those involved
in producing your food. While other states focus

more on entertainment, our state fair continues to
be about agriculture.
Missouri's electric cooperatives were founded in
large part by farmers who needed electricity in order
to stay on the land. We've never forgotten our farmer-member roots, and we work hard to make sure
our farmers get the most from the large amounts of
electricity they use to keep us fed.
My family thinks about our farmers every time
we eat. This month I'd like to encourage all of you to
reach out to the farmers you meet with a big thank
you for their hard work. As they like to say, "I farm
- you eat."
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

GUEST COLUMN

Have a fun, safe summer
by Molly Hall | info@ruralmissouri.coop

I - like most people - turned on lights, plugged
things in and never thought about electricity unless
he MacKenzie family didn't dream their the power went out. That changed when I learned
12-year-old daughter would die from an about the multitude of heartbreaking, life-changing
electrical shock when she went swimming incidents - most avoidable.
I'm passionate about sharing electrical safety
with friends. Their tragedy taught them the
information and preventing tragedies,
importance of ground-fault circuit
and proud to be part of Safe Electric(GFCI) protection around pools and
ity, the national educational program
other water sources.
that works to prevent electrical tragThe Studer boys didn't expect an
edies and deaths. I am grateful for
electrical flash when they opened an
utilities like the electric cooperatives
unlocked electrical box in their new
of Missouri, which are partners in that
backyard. They were lucky the burns
mission.
left no permanent scars. They and
We know that when we arm people
their parents want everyone to underwith knowledge, they will make the
stand about pad-mounted equipment.
right move to stay safe.
Steve Wald and his kids felt sure
So make sure you understand the
they would make it home on their
dangers of swimming in a marina or
bikes before the storm hit. Instead,
near docks with electrical service.
the wind brought a live power line
Check for power lines before fishing,
to the ground in front of them. They
Molly Hall
and cast away from them.
turned back, sought shelter at the
Help children to recognize electrical equipment
closest home and learned that when thunder roars,
and stay away. Tell them never climb trees that are
you must go indoors.
We don't want anyone to learn about electrical close to power lines.
Look up when working with tall tools. Carry ladsafety the hard way, through a personal experience
ders horizontally and check for overhead power
that ends with life-changing injuries or death.
Working for an electric utility got me thinking lines before placing upright.
Any downed line is potentially energized and
about electrical safety several years ago. Before then

T

deadly. Know what to do in an auto accident that
involves downed power lines.
Learn what you need to keep yourself and loved
ones safe by visiting SafeElectricity.org. Packed
with videos, games, articles and more, SafeElectricity.org is a virtual library for children and adults,
farmers, contractors, business people, homeowners, teachers - just about anyone who has questions or needs to know about electrical safety.
Learning and understanding electrical safety
steps and situations is a valuable investment of
time for all of us.
Electricity is an important asset to our modern
life but we must respect that power or the results
can be tragic. More than a thousand people die and
thousands more are injured in electrical incidents
and fires each year. We can change that reality.
As warmer weather sprouts thoughts of happy
outdoor scenes - children running and playing,
people enjoying pools and lakes, folks digging into
gardening and other projects - most are not thinking about potential safety hazards that could affect
the summer fun. We want you to keep them in mind
to ensure a safe summer making great memories.
Have a great, safe summer!
Hall is executive director of the Energy Education
Council - Safe Electricity which works to improve
electrical safety across the country.
MAY 2018 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

5


http://www.SafeElectricity.org http://www.SafeElectricity.org http://www.SafeElectricity.org http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - May 2018 - 4
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