The animal health chairperson for one of the country’s leading farmer groups has claimed that “there’s no respect given for the mental effect” on farmers affected by TB.
Speaking on the latest episode of FarmLand, Hugh Farrell of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) described the impact that a TB breakdown has on farmers’ mental health, citing the example of one particular farmer he knows.
“I saw one farmer who had two different department men come in. I don’t know how many people have dealt with this man. Some of what they said I won’t and can’t repeat. With the pressure they put on that man, he is totally out of his head,” Farrell explained.
I was sitting in a jeep with him and he was banging the steering wheel, and getting out and banging the door. He was that frustrated with the whole system, with the reactors, and his income gone, after building it up over 30 years.
“There’s no respect given for the mental effect it has on people. It’s not only that farmer, it’s the people living in the house and the family. Maybe breakdowns of marriages, financial struggles; there’s bigger issues than what we know,” Farrell stressed.
Farrell urged the need for more respect for farmers, particularly when it comes to dealing and communicating with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
“There’s a lot of proposals there; there’s one talking about a single point of contact. I’ve seen frustration there, where farmers ring the local office or whatever office it might be, and all of a sudden you’re sent back somewhere else,” he said.
“Then you don’t get through, and you’re depending on someone else to get back to you, who may or may not come back to you,” Farrell continued.
He pointed out that: “What you want can be very important, maybe you need it in an hour.
I think it’s time the department brief its staff. If you have one contact in an office, you could ring in and they could be off sick, or on holidays, and nobody can brief them. How long do we wait? Two or three weeks? That is not acceptable in any business.
Farrell argued that: “It’s time we were respected as human beings, like any other individual in a business.”