New CAP likely to include mandatory farm safety measures

Initiatives to improve farm safety may be included as mandatory measures in Pillar 11 in the upcoming CAP reform proposals, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said.

The MEP, who led the debate on farm safety in the European Parliament this week, said the issue of farm fatalities and accidents is a hidden European problem.

While progress on reducing accidents and fatalities has been made in some non-farm sectors, in the agriculture sector this is not the case, despite claims to the contrary, she said.

It is a concern that accurate data is not available in all member states on farm accidents and fatalities. This makes it difficult to compare data and to understand the full picture of what is happening.

The MEP said there are no common reporting standards across the EU.

“It is fair to say that we know more about animals on farms than about the health and wellbeing of those who look after the animals,” she said.

“During the debate members spoke of knowing people who had been impacted by accidents.”

The MEP previously brought this point to the attention of parliament back in March, highlighting the pressure farmers are constantly under.

Also Read: Pressure: ‘We need to look after our farmers’ welfare’

McGuinness welcomed comments from European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan who has suggested member states may, under the new CAP, be required to include farm safety measures – including training – as part of their national strategic plans and this is positive.

She said it is unacceptable that farmers risk life and limb in carrying out their daily tasks.

Huge efforts are being made in Ireland to address the issue with the cooperation of the farm organizations – but more needs to be done, she said.

“Commissioner Hogan said that, while there is no evidence that low incomes are contributing to fatalities and accidents, he accepts that there is a link and I believe that pressure on farmers to do more for less and to farm alone and under pressure leads to situations which may result in accidents occurring,” the MEP said.

During the debate concerns were also expressed about the mental health of farmers and the high level of suicides among farmers in some member states.