Creed: Is the farm safely message falling on deaf ears?

In light of the worrying number of recent farm fatalities, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has urged farmers to think safety first at all times.

The message is particularly relevant ahead of the international Farm Safety Week, scheduled to take place next week (July 16-22).

Speaking to AgriLand earlier today (Wednesday, July 11), the minister said: “The message is always the same: Farm safely. The question is: Is it falling on deaf ears?

It’s been a bad week; as it stands, we’ve had a worse year than last year.

“All the stuff that people know already – it’s a dangerous profession.

“We just need to keep reinforcing it. We’ve been involved in an initiative here in the department with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) in terms of creating awareness through a media campaign.

“That was particularly around farm machinery; but whether it’s farm machinery, livestock, slurry gasses – the accidents are up again and that’s a real problem.”

CAP payments

Meanwhile, the minister was keeping an open mind regarding proposals from some quarters to couple future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments with farm safety training.

But he pointed out that, to an extent, such coupling was already taking place through Pillar II schemes.

Continuing, Minister Creed explained: “We have a degree of linkage already; if you’re drawing down a TAMS (Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes) grant you have to do a half-day farm safety course.

And in fact, from the feedback I’ve had from people who’ve been down that road, they’ve found it extraordinarily beneficial.

The number of farmers drawing down TAMS grants represents only a percentage of the total amount of farmers in Ireland, Minister Creed added.

The real challenge, he argued, is getting the message across to everybody.

Concluding, the minister said: “On further linkage, we’re in a process of CAP consultation now – and I think that’s going to form a part of the consultation process.

Do we need to ramp up the connectivity between payments under the CAP and farm safety – as we do already for knowledge transfer and TAMS? Would we do the same in the Basic Payment Scheme for example?

“They’re issues that will obviously be considered in the context of the CAP.”