Current Edition

current edition

I’ve spent a significant portion of the days and weeks since I participated in the Association of Equipment Manager’s (AEM) Product Safety and Compliance Seminar trying to wrap my mind around its many topics – building a product safety program, risk assessment, safety symbol comprehension and the psychology of safety, among others.

Despite having worked in equipment safety publications for three years now, I marvel at how much I still don’t know. However, one thing I have learned is that original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product safety professionals are passionate about “getting it right.”

While there are many facets of product safety to consider, one I consistently hear about is the importance of designing in safety and designing out risks. For those risks that can’t be designed out, though, OEMs use shields, guards, alarms and warning symbols to protect operators from harm.

This leads me to the subject of technology.

Several articles I’ve read lately emphasize technology as being key to building safer machines. Advanced warnings systems use proximity detectors, while sensors and cameras deliver a safer future with smarter equipment. Maybe someday the equipment’s artificial intelligence could prevent all foreseeable accidents. But it leads me to wonder a few things.

How much technology can be added before it begins to overwhelm the operator’s ability to respond?

Can an operator effectively maneuver his or her machine without sensory overload?

And if not, will operators ignore safety communications intended to alert him or her?

The human factor and the discipline of operator safety awareness is paramount.

Workers often share their workspace with machines. Safety awareness, while always important, becomes paramount when the equipment begins moving large amounts of dirt or lifting heavy objects.

Operators should rely on their training, hand signals and certainly the equipment’s safety systems, but can they still suffer from sensory overload and distraction? After all, equipment operators are human. They deal with physical and mental stress, fatigue and the pressure to meet deadlines. Even the best technology available will not eliminate those issues.

The key to ensuring safe operation of big equipment is an operator’s commitment to safety. Not only does he or she need adequate training, the operator needs to consistently participate in behavioral-based safety training programs, engage in toolbox talks and help cultivate a culture of safety awareness within his or her organization.

Recently, I’ve noticed several postings on social media that focus on changing people’s attitudes toward safety. Construction workers proudly display laminated photos of their families on their safety vests. One worker arrives on the jobsite wearing his daughter’s pink backpack as a reminder to start the day safe.

The message is strong. Going home safely to your loved ones should be everyone’s goal. However, that goal can only be achieved if workers make a concerted effort to commit to a safety program. It’s important to remember that, while product engineers work hard to design out hazards, the equipment operator’s safety awareness is the greatest protection against accidents.

AEM supports safety awareness year-round by offering an extensive array of safety products, including safety manuals and videos, with major equipment types covering aerial, agriculture, compact/portable, earthmoving, forestry, lifting, road paving and utility excavation applications.

To see the complete line of AEM safety materials visit safetymaterials.org.

The Wyoming Livestock Genetics Association is pleased to announce that they are currently taking applications for the 2017-2019 class of Future Cattle Producers of Wyoming. Applications are open to any high school student that has a passion to continue or become involved in the livestock industry. Application deadline is July 15, 2017.

Applications can be found on the Wyoming Livestock Genetics Association website and going to the Future Cattle Producers tab. The website can be found at wylga.com. Applications can be mailed to Future Cattle Producers of Wyoming, PO Box 1688 Gillette Wyoming 82717 or emailed to JW Rankin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Scott Keith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Applicants apply for the chance to win a heifer donated by Wyoming seedstock producer. Donors are chosen after the selections for the class has been made to tailor fit each successful young producer to their donor. This allows for the young producer to not only receive a top breed choice but to also be paired with a mentor who will help them develop their skills and deepen their passion for the cattle industry. 

Prior to selection, they will be asked to fill out an application along with a short essay expressing their interest in the cattle industry. After the applications are received, the selection committee along with the class mentors will review these and select the applicants that will continue on to the interview process.

In their first year, they go through a program of growing, breeding and keeping records on the heifer. They work closely with their donors to keep their focus on the long-term productivity of the cow. At the end of their first year, the class will meet at the Wyoming Stock Growers Winter Convention in Casper for the year end judging and awards. They will receive awards for their placing in record books, interview and animal knowledge.

Year two is a continuation of the record book completion. They will be responsible for bringing a video or virtual presentation of their cow-calf pair to the Wyoming Stock Growers Winter Convention. They will again be judged on the completeness of the record book, their presentation of the heifer to the three-producer panel. The graduating class will also select one of their peers to give their presentation to the Wyoming Stock Growers delegation.

Successful applicants are also eligible for the L.E.A.P. (Livestock Educational Assistance Program). This is a financial assistance program only available to current and past members of the Future Cattle Producer of Wyoming program. This program was developed to help Young Producers cover some or potentially all of their costs of continuing education in livestock production such as an AI School, Range Management class or any other short course that can be tied to beef production.

Throughout the time as a program participant, and as alumni of the program, all the participants and their donors are encouraged to join in on monthly conference calls, seminars and webinars that are focused on production topics relative to the seasonality of their project. These are educational discussions by active professionals in the industry. Nutritionists, AI technicians, veterinarians, marketing specialists, lenders, grazing specialists, geneticists and many other industry experts offer their experience and insight in a casual but informative setting to assist the participant with growth of knowledge.

WyLGA is currently selecting its fifth class. In the previous classes, there have been some outstanding young producers receive heifers from some of the best producers in the state and graduate from this program with a step above what any other program can offer. We are very excited to see the next group develop into the Future Cattle Producers of Wyoming.

If anyone has any questions about applying for the Future Cattle Producer of Wyoming or becoming a sponsor, please feel free to contact JW Rankin at 307-277-7498 or Scott Keith at 307-257-1171.

Most of us involved in Wyoming agriculture cannot imagine living anywhere else. We love our local communities, our friends and neighbors and the lifestyle Wyoming offers. Leaders, whether in formal, elected positions or in volunteer capacities, are the life-blood of small towns and rural communities.   Wyoming is fortunate to have a program to help cultivate leaders for Wyoming agriculture. The Wyoming Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) program was established over 30 years ago to develop highly motivated, well-informed rural leaders who will act forcefully, serve effectively and speak articulately for agriculture and Wyoming communities.

A 1997 Galloway study states that leadership development programs have numerous benefits for participants, as well as for the communities in which they live and work. Participants in ag and rural development programs have increased opportunities to network with other leaders and to identify projects to focus their collective efforts. Ultimately, communities benefit from a large pool of concerned individuals who focus their efforts toward making positive changes within the community and their state, the study concludes.

Wyoming L.E.A.D. is Wyoming’s oldest state-wide leadership program for adults. It is administered by the Wyoming Agricultural Leadership Council, a non-profit organization.   Fourteen classes of leaders, totaling 232 individuals, have graduated from the program. I have had the pleasure for the past two decades to serve as the director for Wyoming L.E.A.D., and I am very proud of the involvement program graduates have had in agricultural organizations and local communities.

Wyoming L.E.A.D. graduates have served as board members for state and national agricultural organizations and on appointed boards and commissions. Several Wyoming L.E.A.D. alumni have been elected to the Wyoming State Legislature and as county commissioners.

Not everyone in agriculture has a desire to serve in a political capacity, and certainly service and leadership comes in many forms. Over 85 percent of Wyoming L.E.A.D. graduates have become active at the local level by serving on school boards, church boards, county fair boards, parent-teacher organizations, as 4-H leaders and in other volunteer capacities. There is a need for good, rural-minded people to become involved, not just in leadership roles but as concerned citizens who want to make a difference.    

If you are 25 years of age or older and are interested in making your voice heard, honing your leadership skills and networking with others involved in agriculture, I encourage you to apply for the Wyoming L.E.A.D. program. We are currently recruiting for L.E.A.D. Class 15, which will begin this fall. Candidates chosen to participate in L.E.A.D. pay a tuition fee and are selected based on their leadership potential and commitment to the program. 

Throughout the course of the year-long program, Wyoming L.E.A.D. class members participate in 10 total seminars, including eight in-state seminars.  These three-day sessions are held throughout the state, giving members a chance to see various communities around Wyoming and experience small and large agricultural operations. Participants gain confidence through networking opportunities and a leadership component at each seminar.  The program also includes a seminar to Washington, D.C. to network with federal agencies, the Congressional delegation and national agricultural organizations.  In addition, an international study tour is included near the end of the program.   

Wyoming L.E.A.D.  is designed to expose participants to all industry segments of Wyoming agriculture and value-added industries. Class members hone their leadership skills through personal development workshops and increase their understanding of agriculture and natural resources during speaker presentations and area tours. Over 100 different topics are covered during the program, and sessions include agricultural and natural resource policy, rural economics and marketing, estate planning and family relations.  Other natural resource industries are examined as well, including oil and gas, mining and timber. 

For further information about the Wyoming L.E.A.D. program or for application information, contact me at 307-214-5080 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 1, 2017. Participation is limited to 14 to 18 participants, so don’t delay in taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity.

I applaud those who have taken the time to get involved already and look forward to working with those ready to take the leap and apply for Wyoming L.E.A.D. Class 15.

Livestock haulers have a challenging task of ensuring motorist safety while also maximizing the health and welfare of animals transported. Unfortunately, the impending Dec. 18, 2017 electronic logging device (ELD) enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) rules do not adequately accommodate this subset of the industry.

These requirements may force small business owners out of the marketplace while having the unintended impact of decreasing driver safety and jeopardizing the wellbeing of hauled animals if they can no longer be hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers/stockmen. As such, we must see some action. The current ELD enforcement deadline must be delayed no less than one year to allow adequate time for industry concerns to be addressed as well as necessary educational programming to be conducted. HOS rules applying to livestock haulers must be made more flexible, so drivers can safely do their jobs while preserving the welfare of the animals for which they care.

The Wyoming Stock Growers Association has been actively involved with this issue and advocates a delay of rules to allow these challenges to be addressed.

Concerns with implementation of the ELD enforcement deadline of Dec. 18, 2017 exist. Industry members and authorities need more time for concerns to be addressed, as well as time for sufficient training and education to be provided for uniform compliance and enforcement.

Currently, ELD vendors can self-certify regulatory compliance of their devices. Industry is concerned that the responsibility to conduct compliance monitoring, as well as liability for non-compliant devices, will fall to haulers. Industry is also concerned if and how individuals other than law enforcement may access data collected, which may contain protected personal information.

Finally, livestock haulers benefit from certain exemptions under the HOS rules. Unfortunately, haulers and law enforcement may not be aware of the existence of such exemptions and especially a recent Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) interpretation first provided in May 2017.

Also, ELD training is not yet incorporated into industry programs, such as Pork and Beef Quality Assurance.

Thus, the ELD implementation deadline must be delayed no less than one year for additional education and device testing in the livestock industry.

HOS rules must also be made more flexible to account for unique issues inherent to livestock hauling.

Current HOS rules mandate a driver only be “on duty” for 14 hours and actively driving for no more than 11 of those hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, they must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours. The livestock and insect industries would like to see more flexibility or an exemption on HOS rules to meet the realities of hauling live animals. 

For example, calves born in the Southeast and West are regularly hauled hundreds of miles to the Plains and Midwest for grazing pastures and feedyards. Loading and waiting time to load animals is inherently unpredictable. Livestock haulers may “run out of hours” a short distance from the conclusion of their run. Research demonstrates that repeated unloading and loading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock, as well as the hauler.

The vast majority of livestock hauls can be safely completed via longer periods of drive time with minor modifications to the HOS rule.

Industry is working on a long-term solution to this issue while also taking into account new FMCSA guidance on a current flexibility.

More information on this issue can be found at fmcsa.dot.gov, wysga.org or lmaweb.com.