Department update: Safety must be prioritised as conditions deteriorate

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has issued a statement urging farmers to “keep safe” over the coming hours and days as weather conditions are expected to turn treacherous.

The department today continued its engagement with the National Emergency Co-ordination Group (NECG), convened by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Conditions are expected to worsen over Thursday and Friday in parts of the country and the NECG is advising that roads should be avoided in Status Red areas due to expected treacherous conditions.

In line with this advice the department has taken the decision to close offices in affected areas on Thursday and Friday.

Contingency plans in respect of essential staffing for the provision of services in areas such as meat factories, border inspection points and ports have been facilitated.

Local decisions will continue to be taken in line with the most up-to-date weather information at ground level.

Department recommendations

The department has highlighted the provision of water, shelter and feed for livestock as priority areas.

It is essential that water pipes in the farmyard and those leading to outside water troughs, are properly insulated and prevented from freezing up. This is particularly important at this time when cows are calving and sheep lambing, giving rise to a heightened demand for water.

In the case of sheep flocks it is essential that they are brought to a sheltered area during the worst of this event.

For any animal welfare issues arising from this severe weather event, farmers are advised to keep in touch with their Teagasc adviser, veterinary practitioner, or to contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare Helpline on: 0761-064408 (call-save); or 01-6072379 (direct line).

Grit and sand

In order to ensure a safe working environment and to facilitate the safe movement of essential goods onto and off-farm, the farmyard, and its environs, should be fully gritted or sanded, the department has said.

All machinery should be correctly stored, maintained properly and where necessary, heating should be provided to ensure that milking equipment and other critical plant does not freeze up.

All those working on farms are urged to take particular care in relation to their own personal safety and that of family members which should remain paramount during this difficult weather.

When herding livestock in remote areas farmers should ensure that somebody knows where they are and that they stay in contact.

The department will continue to be fully represented at all meetings of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group in the coming days and will provide updated information where necessary.