One week ago the new crop of Indiana Master Farmers was honored at a banquet sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and Purdue Extension. This year one of Purdue’s own is an Honorary Master Farmer for his nearly four decades of work devoted to improving on-farm safety. Dr. Bill Field is still going strong after starting his work at Purdue in 1978.
“It’s been a wonderful trip,” he told HAT. “I have no intentions of changing right now. I’ve actually recruited a group of new graduate students to come on board. I think the thing I really enjoy right now is mentoring people that are going to be around when I’m gone, and that includes graduate students, undergrad students. In fact one of the first individuals who came up to me when I came in the door was a former student from a long time ago. I’ve been teaching the same safety courses for 36 years, so there are several thousand farm kids out there, or ag teachers that have taken those courses, and hopefully they’re using that information to just sort of multiply or leverage it beyond what I could ever do.”
Field can point to the data to confirm the fruits of his labor and back up an assertion that “farming is safer than it’s ever been in history.” And one piece of proof is a new milestone statistic.
“We’ve had two years in the last decade where we’ve had no children killed on an Indiana farm, and that never could be said over the last 150 years in this state, in which a year had gone by where not one single child could be documented as having died on a farm. I think that’s a significant move forward. I think the numbers of cases that we document each year is down.”
Field adds farmers are healthier and living longer.
“Even with all the scare tactics that we see from certain groups that chemicals are a problem or whatever, it’s just not reality. The reality is that farmers are healthier, living longer, and have a lot more fun than they’ve ever had in history.”
New Master Farmers this year are Jack and Rita Maloney and Mike and Karen Starkey, both couples from Brownsburg, Carl and Delene Schmitz of Wadesville in Posey County, and David and Danita Rodibaugh, Rensselaer in Jasper County. Stories with the new class will appear in the coming weeks.