If you really think about it, there are really only three reasons that someone should write for publication: to inform, to offer an opinion that will foster a healthy discussion, and — if you’re really good at it — to entertain.
When I produce this blog every two weeks, it’s my hope that not everyone will agree with me. If I do it well enough, it will combine at least the first two these elements and result in creating some dialogue.
In other words, I'm glad when someone challenges my views in a constructive way. As William Wrigley Jr. once pointed out: "When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary."
In the E-Watch Editor’s Blog for July 12, I made it pretty clear that I didn’t agree with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s thoughts about regulating farmers in much the same way as they do commercial truck drivers.
Shortly thereafter, I received a telephone call from an equipment dealer who asked, “Why shouldn’t we require farmers to follow the same safety rules as truck drivers?”
I asked him to clarify his thoughts, and he did. He also asked that I not mention his name for fear of being thoroughly thrashed by his customers or censured by his fellow dealers.
He went on to say, “If a farmer can haul a 40-ton grain cart or liquid manure tank down the highway without restrictions or regulation, it would be nice to know that they at least have to comply with the same safety requirements as everyone else. We see and hear of accidents every year where people get injured or killed. Yet, we have no accountability to ensure the equipment has its brakes or warning lights functioning properly.”
It’s pretty hard to argue with that.
He went on to say, “There is agriculture machinery today that can travel at 50 mph. They should at least have to comply with annual safety inspection. Highway trucks must go through an inspection every year and school buses twice a year. But farm equipment can drive down the road in any condition at any age without proper working safety equipment.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea that farm machinery that use the roads must submit to an annual inspection to ensure that all safety features meet highway requirements,” the dealer says.
He explains that he doesn’t want government intruding into his business or his personal life anymore than the next guy, but he adds, “This should be looked at as a safety issue. Are peoples’ lives not important enough to assess this in that light?”
Most farmers are responsible people who maintain, update and operate their equipment in a safe manner, he says. “Making sure their equipment is safe is a personal choice they make. If they can afford to operate safely and efficiently why can't everyone?”
That’s a good question. If anyone wants to respond, you can offer your comments below.
And, by the way, a few days ago the U.S. Dept. of Transportation sent out a news release to “clarify” its position on this matter. You can see what the agency has to say at http://ow.ly/5NsY4.