Fall is a popular time for agritourism on farms. We compiled these farm safety tips to make sure your fun activities are also safe ones.
When Alan and Annie Trienen opened their farm to visitors in the early 1990’s, they had one team of horses pulling one wagon. They would sit in the living room and watch movies until someone showed up, then take them out to the pumpkin patch.
Today, they have 12 to 13 acres of pumpkins, 15 draft horses and four wagons to cart visitors around.
Needless to say, they don’t get to watch movies anymore.
The Treinens have been working with their insurance company, Rural Mutual Insurance, for years to make sure the fall farm fun they offer to their community also meets safety regulations.
Here, we aggregated tips from our friends at safeagritouism.org to ensure you do the same.
1. Use barriers and fences to separate visitors from large animals and dangerous machinery.
Make sure fences are regularly repaired, maintained and inspected, and are not made of material such as barbed wire, which can injure guests. Ask yourself, “Is there a latch? Does it work properly?”
Additionally, place signs to inform guests of the unsafe areas they should avoid. For instance, this strategy works well near areas containing tractors, which some guests, particularly children, may climb on for fun.
Follow this list of fencing guidelines and recommendations to ensure safety for all.
2. Prepare for emergencies by having a plan in place and communicating it to guests.
When emergencies happen, every second is precious. It’s immensely valuable for every farm to not only have an adequate emergency plan in place, but to also communicate it to guests.
We recommend posting signs around the visitors’ area – for example, a map with the most direct route to a hospital or clinic is helpful.
It’s also important to relay safety information to guests verbally. On a hayride, for instance, continuously remind everyone to remain seated at all times.
If you need to develop a comprehensive safety plan and learn how to communicate it properly, safeagritourism.org’s handy checklist is a great place to start.
3. Make sure workers are aware of machinery safety precautions.
Do workers know not to operate machinery when guests are present? And do they know to inform guests to stay away from potentially dangerous machinery, such as tractors?
It is beneficial to sit down with your farm workers in the beginning of the season to remind them of proper safety precautions, and how to communicate them to guests.
4. Create a safe petting zoo environment for guests.
If your farm has a petting zoo, make sure there’s a transition area from the non-animal area to the animal area.
Post signs to make guests aware that animals are present. Also make sure they know there are rules for feeding the animals, and that food and drink are not allowed.
Animals must be pet through a barrier, and proper sanitizing equipment must be available to guests upon leaving the petting area.
See a comprehensive checklist here.
5. Talk to your insurance company.
The Treinens were open with their insurance company, Rural Mutual Insurance, about their fun plans.
Per their request, claims workers and underwriters from the company visited the farm to help the family figure out the safest way to operate activities while keeping fun in tact.
“It is a great weight off of us to know the insurance company has our back, because we have a lot of people come to the farm and crazy stuff can happen,” said Annie Treinen.