Imposing additional health and safety legislation on farmers will not reduce the number of fatal accidents taking place on Irish farms, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

But, courtesy of his address to the recent ICMSA annual meeting he said that all relevant stakeholder groups must re-double their efforts in getting the members of all farming families to ‘think safe’ at all times.

“I remain totally committed to putting in place a strategy that will help reduce the carnage on our farms,” Coveney added.

“A single death is one too many. And, of course these headline figures do not reflect te number of serious accidents that are taking place on Irish farms. The fact that almost half the workplace-related fatalities are taking place within a sector that accounts for only 6% of the total workforce is totally intolerable.”

This year has been marked by 27 farm fatalities in the Republic of Ireland, the most recent being the death of two farmers in Co. Donegal. They died while changing the wheel on a tractor. Earlier this week a 70-year-old farmer died in Co. Fermanagh, while gathering cows for a TB test.

For his part Minister Coveney believes that farmers must continue to invest in handling and management systems that will make their businesses fundamentally safer places. He told delegates attending the ICMSA annual meeting that the €12.2 million fund for the Farm Safety Investment Scheme, which he announced in October, had been totally allocated.

“This is extremely positive news,” he said.

“And it is my intention to roll over the scheme in 2015. But this is only part of a potential solution. There remains a fundamental requirement to get each and every farm family putting their health and safety on a daily basis.”