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IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has called on Government to ensure that the soon to be published recommendations from the nitrates derogation review support the sustainable development of the sector.

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Today (Mon) marks the start of the seventh annual Farm Safety Week UK & Ireland, an initiative led by the IFA in Ireland, aiming to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a change in culture that makes unsafe practices socially unacceptable. The message for this year’s campaign is: Save Lives. Think Safety – Farm Safely.

Farm Safety Week is supported by a number of agencies, including the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and members of the Farm Safety Partnership Advisory Committee. Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year, 15 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 12 people have lost their lives so far in 2019.

Reacting to these figures, IFA President Joe Healy said: “The statistics are stark, but statistics don’t tell the whole story – they don’t tell you about the devastating impact a farm fatality has on families and communities; they don’t tell you the impact a farm accident can have on the rest of your life, on your ability to run the farm.

“Understanding the risks on and around a farm operation makes it easier to avoid dangers, and makes accidents less likely. However, all too often farmers do not recognise the risks on their farms, which makes it difficult to manage the problem.”

“That is why in 2018 IFA appointed a Farm Health and Safety Executive to implement a pilot farmer-to-farmer peer learning initiative at branch level, to advise farmers about potential risks and educate them to become safety ambassadors within their communities. The farmers involved in the initiative help to mentor each other by, for example, walking each other’s farms to identify potential risks and visualise how safety works in a real-life situation.

“This kind of informal learning has been shown to be effective because the people involved have the potential to adapt the programme to meet their needs and develop their own approaches to improve safety on the farm.”

Sharon McGuinness, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said: “The statistics show that farming is still the most dangerous sector, but this doesn’t have to be the case if appropriate tractor and machinery maintenance is carried out along with the operators receiving the necessary training. Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents. Farmers should keep all machinery in good working order and have the necessary competence and experience to operate.”

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said: “There are a lot of risks in farming but farming doesn’t have to be a dangerous occupation if you are aware of the risks. We have definitely seen an increased awareness of farm safety, thanks to initiatives like Farm Safety Week, and now we need to build this awareness into action and behavioural change. Farmers are very busy, particularly at this time of year, but it’s important to take some time to think about what could improve safety on your farm and in your work practices and then to follow through and make those changes”.

Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen has welcomed Farm Safety Week 2019 and the opportunity it presents to highlight the ongoing need for greater attention to safety in farming.  “There is still a clear and urgent need to change the whole culture in relation to farm safety. In light of the number of farm fatalities so far this year, I am  again calling on farmers, their families and their wider community, as well as farming organisations, to use their collective expertise and influence to spearhead the badly needed cultural and behavioural change at farm level in a combined effort to tackle this serious issue.”

Gerry Boyle, Director Teagasc said, “Teagasc strongly supports the Ireland & UK Farm Safety Week. Every season presents its own challenges on the farm. Many farmers think ‘farm safety last’ rather than ‘farm safety first’, but most accidents are avoidable. Simple factors such as habit, haste, fatigue, and improperly maintained machinery contribute to this perfect storm but this Farm Safety Week, we hope that by hearing the stories of other farmers who have had personal experience of farm accidents, we can get farmers of all ages to realise that this week, and every week, farm safety is a lifestyle.

For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.ifa.ie/safety or follow @IFAmedia on Twitter using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek

About Farm Safety Week

Farm Safety Week was initiated by the Farm Safety Foundation. Farm Safety Week is a led by the IFA in Ireland, aiming to reduce the number of accidents on farms and bring about a culture of farm safety. Farm Safety Week started in the UK in 2013 and has grown to include England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; five nations with a single purpose; to reduce death and serious injuries in agriculture.

Events

In conjunction with speakers from Teagasc, Gardaí, ESB, Irish Coast Guard, HSE, HSA, local Fire and Rescue Service, FBD and FRS, IFA is hosting a number of Farm safety events during farm safety week.

On Tuesday a Farm safety evening in Kilkenny will be held on the farm of Andrew Phelan, Ballytarsney Mooncoin Co. Kilkenny X91 KH60 (7.30pm).

On Wednesday 18th July at 11.30am Kilcullen Mart will be hosting a Farm Safety Event. On Wednesday evening a Farm safety event is taking place on the farm of Michael Owens, Ballagh, Melough, Ballinasloe, Co Galway H53 SA48.

On Thursday evening in County Louth, Patrick McMahon, Ballybinady, Hackballscross, Dundalk A91X9Y4, will host the event.

Discounts

During Farm Safety Week, discounts on safety equipment are being offered by retailers locally.

About the Farm Safety Partnership

The Farm Safety Partnership in Ireland has been in place since 2002, is chaired by a HSA Board member and reports directly to the Board of the Health and Safety Authority. The current memberships includes; Construction Industry Federation, Irish Farmers Association, IOSH Rural Industries Section, Farm Relief Services Training Ltd, Department of Agriculture, Food, and Marine, Veterinary Council of Ireland, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association National Office, Health & Safety Authority, Veterinary Ireland, Teagasc, Professional Agricultural Contractors Association Ireland, Irish Rural Link, Agri Aware, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, Institute of Technology Carlow, Health Services Executive, FBD Farm Insurance, Coillte and Macra Na Feirme.

IFA Animal Health Chairman, Pat Farrell said the TB Forum established by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has failed to deliver on the key objective of addressing stakeholder issues.

He said the Forum, under the chairmanship of Michael Cronin, has merely functioned as a vehicle  for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views, while continuing to ignore the voice of farmers, who are the single largest contributor to TB eradication.

Pat Farrell said farmer costs in the programme have risen by 15% since 2012, while the costs of other contributors have reduced.

Direct farmer contributions increased by €4.513m from €30.641m to €35.154m, DAFM contributions reduced by €289,000 from €45.825m to €45.536m and the EU Co-financing reduced by €1.337m from €11.085m to €9.748m.

The funding shift between 2012 and 2018 represents an increase of 15% for farmers, a reduction of 1% for the national exchequer and a reduction of 12% by the EU.

Despite the unacceptable cost increases for farmers in the TB programme, the TB Forum have now issued a report to the Minister for Agriculture that further increases the burden of controls on farmers, while refusing to address the shortcomings in the compensation schemes.

Pat Farrell said one of the recommendations contained in the report to the Minister tightens controls and increases obligations on farms that are not currently restricted with TB but have had difficulties on their farms previously with the disease.

He said, “These farms have only recently been derestricted and are attempting to return to normal farming practices having endured the enormous burden of restrictions and animal losses. The Forum are now proposing these farms implement TB risk management plans in consultation with their vet, which will be at an additional cost. These farms will also be compelled to carry out 30-day pre-movement testing on all animals offered for sale other than slaughter, significantly diminishing the viability of market access for these herds. It is estimated by the Department of Agriculture that up to 500 herds will be immediately impacted by this measure with current restricted herds added to the protocol as they become derestricted if categorised as chronic herds, effectively extending the impact of the controls on those farms.”

In addition, Pat Farrell said the Department of Agriculture proposal undermines the long-established agreement with government in relation to liability to pay for tests. He said farmers are only liable to pay for one TB test a year and at no shorter interval than 10 months with all additional testing required in the TB programme paid for by the Department of Agriculture. Under this proposal the Department of Agriculture will only pay for one pre-movement test per quarter exposing farmers to very costly pre-movement testing costs if they need to sell animals at different intervals.

Pat Farrell said, “IFA have outrightly rejected this proposal, and the Minister must honour the existing agreement in relation to payment for tests”.

Given the enormous costs and losses imposed on farmers in the TB programme, IFA made detailed submissions on necessary changes to the programme including to the compensation schemes which are a fundamental part of the programme to offset the burden on farmers. Progress was achieved on issues such as wildlife and information services for affected farmers, but the fundamental issue of compensation was not addressed.

The representatives of the Minister for Agriculture at the Forum have stated they will not support any increases to compensation rates for farmers. This has frustrated the work of the Forum and prevented any meaningful progress.

Pat Farrell said this approach clearly shows the lack of appreciation and understanding from the Minister’s officials of the impact that controls are imposing on farmers and their families.

He called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify his position on this critical issue for farmers.

He said the Minister must confirm to farmers if the views expressed by his officials at the TB Forum are consistent with his views and if not resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

Pat Farrell concluded, “The TB burden has gone on for too long and eradication must be the objective, but this cannot be attained by the usual Department of Agriculture simplistic approach of just tightening controls on farmers and increasing the cost burden while ignoring the stress, trauma and economic impact these controls have on farmers and their families”.

 

IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has called on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to stand firm on the outright rejection of the proposal in the new EU Animal Health Law Delegated Act to impose 30-day pre-movement testing for TB on all herds that are more than six months tested.

He said the only beneficiaries of this proposal will be vets and factories at the expense of farmers.

The IFA Chairman said this proposal is not scientifically based, will be a major impediment to the competitive marketing of animals; and could cost the Irish TB programme up to €20m a year.

Irish farmers contribute more than any other farmers throughout the EU directly to their TB programme and will not accept this additional cost burden and anti-competitive measure imposed on them that will not contribute to eradication of the disease.

The IFA Chairman said our newly elected MEPs also have a critical role to play in protecting Irish farmers from this unscientific, market distorting and anti-competitive proposal.

In the Delegated Act currently open for public consultation, the EU is proposing a 30-day pre-movement test for all animals from herds that are over six months tested, targeting the lowest TB risk herds in the country.

Pat Farrell said the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and our MEPs cannot allow the EU to impose this anti-competitive market distorting expense on Irish farmers who already incur a disproportionate cost burden in the TB programme in comparison to all other farmers throughout the EU

He said this measure would have a huge distortion to the sales and marketing of cattle in this country and would impact very negatively on the functioning of our vital live export trade.

Pat Farrell also pointed out this requirement will impact severely on marts and throughput in mart sales as the additional costs and inconvenience will drive more farmers directly to factories, removing vital competition to the benefit of factories.

The IFA Chairman said failure to have this issue addressed by our Minister for Agriculture and our MEPs is not an option.  Only recently, our MEPs made strong commitments of support to farmers in return for their vote. Farmers will measure these commitments on how this issue is resolved.

IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the TB Forum established by the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has failed to deliver on the key objective of involving stakeholders.

He said the Forum, under the chairmanship of Michael Cronin, has merely functioned as a vehicle

for the Department of Agriculture to impose their views, while continuing to ignore the voice of farmers, who are the single largest contributor to TB eradication.

Pat Farrell said farmer costs in the programme have risen by 15% since 2012, while the costs of other contributors have reduced.

Direct farmer contributions increased by €4.513m from €30.641m to €35.154m, DAFM contributions reduced by €289,000 from €45.825m to €45.536m and the EU Co-financing reduced by €1.337m from €11.085m to €9.748m.

The funding shift between 2012 and 2018 represents an increase of 15% for farmers, a reduction of 1% for the national exchequer and a reduction of 12% by the EU.

The IFA Chairman said against this background and the enormous costs and losses imposed on farmers in the TB programme, IFA made detailed submissions on necessary changes to the Live Valuation Scheme, Income Supplement Scheme, Depopulation Grant Scheme and the Hardship Grant to offset the burden on farmers.

However, the representatives of the Minister for Agriculture at the Forum have stated they will not support any increases to compensation rates for farmers. This has frustrated the work of the Forum and prevented any meaningful progress.

Pat Farrell said this approach clearly shows the lack of appreciation and understanding from the Minister’s officials of the impact that controls are imposing on farmers and their families.

He called on the Minister for Agriculture to immediately clarify his position on this critical issue for farmers.

He said the Minister must confirm to farmers if the views expressed by his officials at the TB Forum are consistent with his views and if not resolve the issue as a matter of urgency.

Pat Farrell said the TB burden has gone on for too long and eradication must be the objective, but this cannot be attained by the usual Department of Agriculture simplistic approach of just tightening controls on farmers and increasing the cost burden while ignoring the stress, trauma and economic impact these controls have on farmers and their families.


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