We’ve seen more grain bin entrapments and deaths this year than last year throughout the Midwest, and while many dread the next report of an incident, there’s an attitude that it’s “only a matter of time.” This hour on Focus, we’ll hear about what it’s like to be inside a grain bin…and what its like to survive being completely submerged under four feet of corn for more than four hours.
A few weeks ago on a farm outside a small north central Iowa town, Arick Baker was enveloped under 2 feet of grain in less than 10 seconds while working inside a silo. He was surrounded by 22,000 bushels of corn, exerting more than 400 pounds of pressure on most of his body. Unlike most who are caught in a grain bin entrapment, Baker survived. That makes him an extreme exception to the rule. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Baker about what it was like to be trapped in the corn. Rescuers estimate it was more than 100 degrees inside the bin while he was trapped; he walked away with little more than a few bruises and scrapes.
Then, we’ll hear from professor of agriculture at Purdue University William Field about why these preventable farming accidents happen. He has been tracking these types of incidents since the mid 1970’s and will talk with us about why it’s hard to pin down exactly how many incidents happen each year and what’s being done to decrease the number of them. University of Illinois Extension Agriculture Broadcaster Todd Gleason, who used to play in grain bins growing up on the farm, will also be here to talk with us about farm culture, growing up around grain and why this is a problem that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention until the last few years.
Dave Wisher, who is a part of the Urbana Fire Department’s MABAS 28 Technical Rescue Team, joins us for the last portion of this hour’s Focus. MABAS 28 is a specialty team of firefighters trained to conduct search and rescue in confined spaces. Wisher was involved in efforts to rescue the Sidney, Illinois man who died in a grain entrapment earlier this summer.
Watch a video about grain bin saftey from the National Corn Growers Association:
Annie Kohlhagen-Fleck was working as school teacher when she met her husband Frank in the mid-1940’s. He was a farmer, and she spent her life from the time they married in 1947 until her death in 2007 caring for milk cows and chickens and raising her four children. She learned about farming, money management and crop insurance through trial and error, what her daughter Ruth Hambleton calls “the hard way” not having grown up on a farm or having access to resources to help guide her through the complicated world of crop insurance and bookkeeping.
In 2003, Ruth founded Annie’s Project, in honor of her mother, to help women learn to manage farming operations alongside other women.
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ruth about Annie’s story, the project and how it’s helped empower more women to become stakeholders in agriculture. Stephanie Butcher, who manages the business for her family’s 2200 acre grain operation in Mt. Auburn, Illinois, also joins our conversation. She says taking Annie’s Project classes have been invaluable in helping her get involved with farming and learning about agriculture marketing and business. She took over the books and the business side of running her family’s farm in 2008 with her husband after enrolling in an Annie’s Project class. Even though she grew up on a farm, she says she didn’t learn anything about the business aspect of farming.
Are you a female farmer? What appeals to you about the farming lifestyle? How did you learn about life on the farm? We’d love to hear from you this hour. Find us on Facebook or send us a tweet @Focus580.