Embrace FARM, the not-for-profit organisation founded by Brian and Norma Rohan, has been supporting members of the farming community who have been impacted by a sudden trauma such as an accident, death or suspected suicide on farm, since 2014. In order to meet the growing demand for additional supports, the organisation recently launched a new one-to-one mentoring programme funded by the European Innovation Partnership (EIP), through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Embrace FARM Encircle Programme has been developed by a dedicated operational group informed by industry specialists including ifac, Agricultural Solicitors, Agricultural Consultants Association, Rural Support and the HSE National Office of Suicide Prevention. It will offer supports to farmers and farm families all over the country through a nationwide panel of professional mentors encompassing the full spectrum of legal, financial, agri and emotional issues that individuals and families contend with in the aftermath of these sudden situations.

Ifac’s David Leydon, member of the Encircle Programme operational group says: “Since ifac was founded in 1975 there has rarely been a year when we didn’t work with a family who had suffered a tragedy or significant trauma on their farm. These are always very challenging situations. Adding in financial, taxation and succession pressures make these situations even worse.

“Some of the most common issues the ifac team encounter in these situations include lack of an up-to-date will and enduring power of attorney not in place. This can be hugely challenging as it means that there isn’t a nominated person to take over the running of the farm or make decisions for you should you unfortunately lose your faculties from an accident or illness.

Financial difficulties

“Families also often find themselves in serious financial difficulties due to the absence of income protection where there is a serious injury and the farmer can no longer continue working, or where life assurance is in place it may only be sufficient to cover existing loans, but not in place to cover the families’ future needs, for example, third level education for children.

“This can be further complicated due to lack of information on assets, liabilities, investments and debts; access to passwords to the Department of Agriculture, ICBF or any farm management platforms that are used; or should those left behind not have access to farm bank accounts. A farm is different to other businesses in that day-to-day operations continue no matter what happens - feed still needs to be purchased, contractors need to be paid so access to bank accounts is really important.

“Farm families can also be faced with difficult tax issues as a result of the lack of succession planning, or where the farm is operating in more complex partnership and limited company structures a lack of a shareholders’ agreement can add to the financial and taxation challenges at this time”.

Mentors of the Embrace Farm Encircle programme.

Significant stress

David continues, “Of course we would encourage farm families to be proactive about these matters. It’s very easy to put them on the back burner and not address what can be complex issues, but this adds significantly to the stress on those left behind. Tragedies on farm are all too common, so making sure the financial part of the equation is well prepared makes good sense.

“However, we know for many this is not often the case so we are delighted to be working with Embrace FARM on this Encircle programme. We have a specialist team within the business who will support those farm families who need help at a very difficult time. The team has accountancy, tax and personal finance expertise, which along with the other partners in this programme will make a difference to families”.

Acknowledging how difficult it can be for individuals and families who find themselves facing any of these issues as a result of tragedy on a farm, Norma Rohan, General Manager and Co-Founder of Embrace FARM says, “Even the most straight forward of tasks can feel enormous to someone in the aftermath of a farm accident, death or suspected suicide. Our panel of mentors involved in the Encircle Programme have been carefully selected in order to cater to the many complex issues facing families and individuals. Once someone contacts us, we will work with them to figure out what they need, and in what order of priority, and from there we will match them with the right professional mentors who can support them where they need help the most, whether it be legal, emotional, financial or general support with the overall operation of a farming business.”

Remembrance service

Embrace FARM, will host the ninth Annual Ecumenical Remembrance Service to honour those who have been lost or injured on farms on Sunday 26 June 2022 at 2pm at the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Abbeyleix, Co Laois. The service will also be live streamed on www.embracefarm.com and replayed on RTÉ on Sunday 3 July. To have your loved ones name included in this year’s Remembrance Service, call or WhatsApp 085-770 9966 or email info@embracefarm.com with name, county, year of death or accident and a photograph if available