Maryland Soybean Board to partner in education outreach
The Maryland Soybean Board praises the Maryland Department of Transportation for their innovative consideration of farmers in their recently released 2021-2025 Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). The plan is the latest update to identify strategies and actions to eliminate fatalities on all Maryland roadways. This update is the first of which to address rural communities and farm equipment concerns.
“The SHSP addresses safety specific to Maryland roadways across urban, suburban and rural communities,” states the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) in the announcement of the plan. “For example, in many areas the roadway use changes when farm equipment needs to travel alongside other vehicles. In a case like this, crash prevention measures – such as fixed and mobile road signs warning of slow-moving vehicles and outreach campaigns – will be among strategies used to raise awareness of unique needs of rural communities and farm operations on Maryland roads.”
The Maryland Soybean Board (MSB) completed the Maryland Rural Road Safety Study in 2019, which analyzed farm vehicle and farm equipment related in the State of Maryland. Conclusions from the study found that education for all drivers, both of farm vehicles and standard motor vehicles, will play a key role in reducing the number of farm vehicle collisions; and that it was imperative for farm vehicles to be recognized in the SHSP. The Maryland Soybean Board worked with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders to put those findings into action.
“Road safety is a top priority for Maryland soybean farmers,” proclaimed MSB Chair Belinda Burrier. “We are pleased to see that the Maryland Department of Transportation is taking these concerns seriously by becoming one of the first states in the nation to include farm equipment in their highway safety plan.”
The MSB will continue to work with MDOT to further education efforts surrounding farm vehicle collisions. Most recently, MSB released www.findmedriving.com, a website providing driving tips for navigating around slow moving vehicles on the roadway. It features an orange triangle mascot, SAM, as a reminder for drivers for when they see a slow moving vehicle to Slow down, Assess their surroundings, and Move with caution. Burrier has also been appointed to represent farmers on the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration Highway Safety Speed Emphasis Area Team.
“Serving in this role, I look forward to not only sharing my experience to prevent farm vehicle collisions, but also voicing concerns on other opportunities to make roadways safer for farmers, including roadway construction, maintenance, and more,” she states.
In Maryland, farmers grow about a half a million acres of soybeans, producing more than 20 million bushels of beans each year. With a value of $173 million to the state’s economy, soybeans are one of Maryland’s top crops. The checkoff program is funded by farmers through an assessment of one-half of one percent of the net market value of their soybeans at the first point of sale. One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Maryland for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board.
For more information on the Maryland Soybean Board, visit www.mdsoy.com.
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Danielle Farace, Executive Director
Maryland Soybean Board