Farm safety is of paramount concern now that sugarcane planting is in full swing and the motoring public needs to be aware, said Mike Daigle, president of the American Sugar Cane League.
"Right now farmers are in the fields cutting seed cane for planting and sugarcane equipment is not yet on the roads,” Daigle said. "The trouble is there may be unsupervised children and adolescents riding all-terrain vehicles on farm roads.
"Most sugarcane farmland is private property and farmers and landowners are concerned about ATVs because the combines and other equipment used in planting are oversized and may not offer the best vision in fields where the machines have to maneuver.
"We don’t want any accidents so we’re asking the public to refrain from driving ATVs in sugarcane fields and farm roads. ATV riding is fun under the right conditions, but operating them while trespassing can be very dangerous, especially while farm crews are working.
"A farm crew may be working 500 yards from the highway’s vehicular traffic and not expecting a four-wheeler to go speeding by. Quite often, harvester operators do not have a clear line of vision and may not see a low-profiled ATV crossing in front of them on an interior field road.
"Louisiana’s sugarcane farmers pride themselves on their safety record and we want everyone to be safe during planting and later on when we’re in full harvest.”
Sugarcane, farmed in 22 parishes, is Louisiana’s number one row crop. The state’s 483 growers and 11 sugar mills harvested more than 14.8 million tons of sugarcane which produced 3.3 billion pounds of raw sugar. The 2012 crop was valued at a billion dollars.