Farm Safety Week 2018 introduces new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative
Monday marks the start of the sixth annual farm safety week in Ireland and the UK, an initiative organised by the IFA. The message for this year’s campaign is: Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice.

Farm Safety Week 2018, organised by the IFA, aimed at reducing farm accidents nationwide, is taking a slightly different approach this year.

Rather than focusing on agriculture’s poor safety record and stories of things going wrong, the campaign will highlight stories of when things go right, sharing good practices and demonstrating what "good safety" looks like.

Your Health. Your Safety. Your Choice

Farming continues to have one of the poorest safety records of any sector in Ireland. Last year 24 people lost their lives in farm accidents and 11 people have lost their lives so far in 2018.

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.

Commenting on the initiative, IFA president Joe Healy said that these “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”.

New IFA farm safety initiative and health and safety appointment

This year the IFA is appointing 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 who get involved in the initiative will 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 improving safety on the farm, according to the association’s president.

Farmers must take responsibility to prioritise safety, especially when working with tractors and machinery, which are the biggest cause of fatal accidents

Under new management

William Shortall has been appointed as IFA health and safety executive to lead farm safety promotion and the new peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.

Shorthall has worked as a regional development officer with the IFA since 2007. He holds a diploma in agricultural engineering and has recently completed a higher diploma in safety, health and welfare at work. He will formally take up the new role on 1 September.

Sharon McGuinness, chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority, believes that “farming is still the most dangerous sector in which to work, although awareness of the issues is high”.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has commented that "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”.

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The farmer's daily wrap: Energy in Agriculture and arrest over land dispute
Here is your news round-up of the top five farming stories today, Tuesday 21 August.

Weather

Wednesday morning will start misty and mostly cloudy, with the rain and drizzle becoming patchy and scattered over Leinster and east Munster, according to Met Éireann. It will dry out quickly elsewhere, with some bright spells developing. It will be bright in all areas in the afternoon, with sunny spells at times and dry apart from the odd light shower. Top temperatures will range from 15°C to 19°C. Moderate to fresh southwest breezes will veer northwesterly as the rain clears.

Wednesday night will be cooler, clearer and less humid than recent nights with lowest temperatures of 10°C or 11°C. It will start off dry but showers will develop in the west and northwest during the night.

In the news

  • Farmers and renewable energy professionals showed both eagerness for the imminent launch of support schemes and frustration at delays such as those in obtaining a connection to the national electricity grid at the Energy in Agriculture open day.
  • Skibbereen and Bandon credit union has launched a fodder support loan.
  • There was a strong turnout of store bullocks in Bandon on Tuesday with in-spec stock well sought after.
  • Two arrests were made in Ferns, Co Wexford, on Tuesday, where 150ac is at the centre of a land dispute.
  • Paul Clabby, a Roscommon farmer from Four Mile House, has claimed the 2018 escort of the year title at the Rose of Tralee festival.
  • Coming up on Wednesday

  • Full coverage from the Virginia Show.
  • We reveal the speakers at this year's ASA conference.
    Listen: hope and bottlenecks at Energy in Agriculture 2018
    Several hundred farmers attended the annual farm energy open day, where discussions swung between progress on Government support and continuing hurdles to renewable projects.

    Farmers and renewable energy professionals showed both eagerness for the imminent launch of support schemes and frustration at delays such as those in obtaining a connection to the national electricity grid at this Tuesday’s Energy in Agriculture open day.

    Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten and other Government officials confirmed that support schemes would open for renewable heat this year and electricity next year – but, in both cases, the tranches supporting farmers most directly will only open at a later stage.

    Grants

    The grants opened this month for domestic solar photovoltaic panels may also extend to farm buildings in the future, but this is at the “analysis” stage, Minister Naughten said. However, he insisted that “all of these policies will provide real opportunities for rural Ireland and for the farming community”.

    IFA renewables project chair Tom Short said the €300m pledged so far for the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat was “a pittance” and more incentives were needed to develop the industry. Yet, there was no sign of new farm-level support for energy crops from Department of Agriculture officials.

    Smaller attendance

    With attention focused elsewhere by the weather crisis, the attendance at the event in Gurteen College, Co Tipperary, was smaller this year than at previous events. There were fewer onlookers and more farmers with concrete projects in the pipeline – many of whom complained of continuing delays in obtaining a grid connection to sell their renewable electricity.

    Co Wicklow sheep farmer Ashley Bourne told the Irish Farmers Journal that he had been waiting for two years for a connection from ESB Networks for a planned solar farm on 4ac of his land and did not know how much longer he would have to wait. Listen to his interview in our podcast below:

    Listen to "Farmer waits two years for solar energy connection" on Spreaker.

    New priority rules for grid connections favour people like Ashley, who have secured planning permission. But they have only been in place since May and have not yet had an effect on the backlog of hundreds of applications in the queue.

    They have, however, increased confidence among European investors willing to put money into renewable energy projects on Irish farmland, according to Michael Moore of renewable energy development firm, Elgin Energy.

    Connecting farmers

    Along with the ESB, Bord na Móna was highlighted by Minister Naughten as the main future link to connect farmers with markets on the biomass side of the industry. Both semi-state companies were absent from the event’s exhibitors and speakers.

    Read more in this week's Irish Farmers Journal.

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    Bright future for on-farm renewables

    Renewable electricity schemes to generate questions at Energy in Agriculture

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    Rooftop solar scheme attractive for smaller farms

    West Cork credit union launches fodder support loan
    The loan is for up to €20,000 and payments are offered on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis.

    Skibbereen and Bandon credit union has launched a fodder support loan. The new “acre fodder loan” offers a borrowing of up to €20,000. The credit union is offering repayments on a monthly, seasonal or annual basis. Rates start from 6.99%.

    Cashflow risk

    The aim of the loan is to minimise farmers’ cashflow risk by spreading the unforeseen cost over the next few seasons.

    Dominic Casey of Muintir credit union in Skibbereen said: “We recognise that farmers are in difficulty and that current cashflow is a problem. Our ethos in the credit union is to support the farmer and the local community. The loan is in response to the fodder crisis. Our aim is to allow farmers to buy what they need now.”

    Read more

    Farm loans now available from Co Cork credit unions