A new European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project is using drama to spark a culture change around farmer health and well-being and farm safety.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Heydon attended a performance of the drama last Thursday (May 12) in Co. Cork, where he officially launched the Safe Farm campaign.

Safe Farm is one of eight EIP projects, and has developed a tailored training programme based on a needs analysis which was conducted with Dairygold Co-op suppliers last Spring (2021).

The programme sees actors bring potential farm safety situations to life by performing scenes to emotionally capture the audience and provoke discussion on key issues. The drama, which includes a number of pauses to facilitate dialogues, will be recorded and distributed via a number of webinars.

The project, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is also associated with Acorn Agricultural Research, University College Dublin (UCD), Dairygold Co-op and Cohort Recruitment and Training. Joe Kirk, from Acorn Agricultural Research said:

“As this project is farmer-led, it should increase the chances of farmer buy in, which will hopefully improve the culture around farmer health, well-being and farm safety.”

Needs analysis results

The results of the analysis showed that 83% of farmers that took part had made positive health and safety changes on their farm, but only after an incident had occurred.

It also found that farmers are aware of the various farm safety hazards and risks and do consider safety on the farm daily. However, time constraints are a challenge facing many farmers in terms of implementing certain safety measures.

According to the results of the analysis, a high proportion of farmers feel overwhelmed with work, while many farmers have concerns for their own and other farmers’ well-being given the long hours of work often in isolation.

Head of supply chain at Dairygold Billy Cronin said that being aware of the reality that those who farm alone face is so important:

“We need to be constantly aware of the challenges facing farmers who are working on their own and I would urge all farmers to always ask themselves am I doing a dangerous, difficult or different task today to ensure everyone goes home safely to their families each evening.”