The recent spell of wet weather and the ensuing delays to silage cutting and harvesting in some parts of the country may have a knock-on impact on farm safety, one senator suggested.

Speaking in the Seanad yesterday (Tuesday, May 25) Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard said that the current month is likely to be the wettest May ever on record.

“The rainfall has had knock-on effects on the agricultural community because, traditionally, 10 or 11 days of silage cutting would have been completed [by now],” he noted.

“As there is now a backlog, the end of this month and the month of June will be very busy.”

“I am also very concerned about the statistics for farm safety during these few months. In the last decade, with machinery and farm accidents but particularly with machinery, 118 people were killed, of which 13 were minors.

The Co. Cork-based senator said that the month of June will be a “very busy period” for silage and he called for a debate and campaign urging people to be safe and responsible at silage.

“Safety on farms is a real worry because there is going to be real pressure on contractors,” Lombard highlighted.

“Farmers need to realise that silage has always been cut, and that although the work may be 10, 12 or 14 days behind, they do not need to put their contractors under pressure.”

He added: “We do not need to start talking about working 24 hours a day because we know that fatalities happen when people make mistakes.

“I do not want to see a peak in farm fatalities between the end of May and into the month of June due to pressure on contractors. Therefore, we need a campaign to combat a potential spike,” Lombard stressed.

He called on the Minister of State for farm safety Martin Heydon to start a campaign that…”reiterates that the silage will be cut but there is no need for anyone to lose their lives”.

Senator Regina Doherty, the leader of the Seanad (the senator that directs government business in that chamber), said that Lombard’s point was “incredibly important and timely”.

“I will contact the Minister of State, Deputy Heydon, by letter to ask him to consider a campaign on farm safety for the next couple of weeks,” she confirmed.

“We know the harvest has been delayed because of the incredibly bad weather in May and it is certainly not something we should be trying to catch up on by cutting corners,” Doherty highlighted.