Originally published March 19, 2020 on Alberta Farmer Express
By Erin Kelly
Stamp Seeds has seen major growth and that’s prompted family to ‘put that culture of safety up front’
Much has changed at Stamp Seeds since it was founded by Richard and Marian Stamp more than 40 years ago.
“We have a pretty dynamic farm — there’s never a day that goes by without something exciting happening,” said Richard. “But that is also why it’s been important to have a culture of safety on the farm.”
Over the past decade, the pedigree seed farm near the southern Alberta hamlet of Enchant has steadily increased its production, reaching about 7,000 acres and hiring more employees. Those changes have been accompanied by the return of Richard and Marian’s three sons — Greg, Nathan, and Matthew — who now manage day-to-day operations, along with an intensified approach to safety.
“We have more moving parts at the farm compared to 10 years ago, so we realized we couldn’t keep doing things the way we were and needed to put that culture of safety up front,” said Nathan, who manages farm operations and agronomy.
“That culture of safety is crucial for us. We make (safety) a part of everything we do because everyone wants to go home safely.”
Despite its growth, being family oriented remains at the core of Stamp Seeds and is a leading reason for placing such a high priority on establishing a culture of safety.
“For us, all of these people who come to work on our farm are our family, and we want to keep them safe,” said Richard.
Everyone working on the farm is involved in safety plans, which include mandatory safety meetings each month. They promote open communication among staff by encouraging everyone to speak up about any potential concerns or hazards.
“We tell everyone that if you’re driving one of our vehicles and there is a stop sign, if you don’t stop, you’re going to get fired — and that goes for me, too,” said Richard. “You need to talk about safety, but you also need to live it.
“It’s important to make safety a priority and invest the necessary time and work because it will pay off in the long run.”
The investment in safety goes beyond on-farm protocols. They are also mindful of their workers’ personal well-being, with a health benefits program among the initiatives introduced at the farm in recent years.
“If our employees take care of themselves, that in turn directly impacts what goes on at the farm,” said Nathan. “There is an important correlation between someone’s well-being — both physical and mental — and their work and safety on the farm.”
With a new generation at the helm, the farm will undoubtedly continue to evolve and grow in the years ahead, and that most certainly includes enhancing its culture of safety.
“Safety isn’t something you can get complacent about; you have to keep maintaining protocols and improving as things change,” said Nathan. “We strongly believe that if you can’t do a job safely, then it’s not worth doing.”
“You can always fix a truck, but you can’t fix people as easily,” added Richard.
The theme of this year’s Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, which takes place March 15-21, is Safe & Strong Farms: Grow an AgSafe Canada. For more information and farm safety resources, go to agsafetyweek.ca.