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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Suppliers don’t want ‘Glanbia’s charity’ – ICMSA
The ICMSA has spoken out strongly against the 2c/l cut and subsequent top-up Glanbia applied to its November milk price.

The ICMSA has heavily criticised Glanbia’s decision to cut its base milk price by 2c/l to 28.46c/l excluding VAT for non-members.

Chair of the ICMSA’s dairy committee Gerald Quain said that suppliers would be angry and confused by the milk processor’s decision.

They don’t want to be recipients of Glanbia’s charity

He acknowledged that markets had not been as strong recently but insisted that they had been gaining momentum, particularly in the powder area.

“Global milk production has only grown by 1.4% in 2018 to the end of October, with a similar figure for the EU,” Quain said.

“Put that very modest growth in supply against the increased volumes and prices of skimmed milk powder that has left Intervention in the last month – over 60,000 tonnes in the last tender – and any reasonable analysis points to a positive market.”

Top-up

Not only did he insist that the cut to Glanbia’s base price was unjustified but he also called the 2c/l top-up to Glanbia members an attempt to fool suppliers.

“I have no idea why Glanbia indulges in this practice of cutting base price and then returning it as ‘top-ups’, as if it was somehow ‘out of the goodness of their hearts,” Quain said.

“They [suppliers] don’t want to be recipients of Glanbia’s charity or to be paid ‘top-ups’ with their own money out of the co-op.”

He added that farmers were now receiving less than the Ornua PPI, which he called embarrassing.

Loyalty payments

Quain continued that with the amount of skimmed milk sold out of intervention recently, the dairy market for 2019 was looking increasingly positive.

Loyalty or hardship top-up payments were common among a number of dairy processors over the last year during trying weather conditions.

Adding it back as a discretionary payment doesn’t fool anyone

However, Quain was emphatic that the ICMSA was not willing to accept a loyalty or hardship top-up payment model.

“If Glanbia wants to pay a bonus or discretionary payment then they should pay it on top of the minimum market price and that is the Ornua PPI. Cutting the base and then adding it back as a discretionary payment doesn’t fool anyone – certainly not their suppliers”, Quain concluded.

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Weather warning upgraded for storm Deirdre
Met Éireann has warned of "squally and damaging gusts" of wind and heavy rainfall this Saturday.

Previous weather warnings have been upgraded to status orange for southern and north-western coasts as storm Deirdre crosses the country during the day.

From 3pm until the end of the day, winds will reach mean speeds of 65km/h with gusts of 110km/h generally, and up to 120km/h in southern coastsal counties and in Co Donegal.

In the rest of the country, west to northwest winds are set to increase later in the afternoon and evening, with top gusts of 110km/h forecast, leading to a status yellow warning.

Rain warning

Rainfall is also forecast to reach 30mm to 50mm this Saturday, with more in mountainous areas.

In Northern Ireland, the Met Office has issued a status yellow wind and rain warning for counties Down and Armagh, and the eastern parts of counties Derry, Tyrone and Antrim from 6am to 6pm. Wind gusts of 50mph to 60mph are expected, with 30mm to 50mm of rainfall in six to 12 hours.

Several thousand customers were without electricity on Saturday evening, according to ESB Networks, most of them in counties Cork and Waterford.

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The farmer's daily wrap: M&S protest and weather warning
Catch up with all the headlines from the day and get a look ahead at tomorrow's weather.

Weather forecast

Wet and windy conditions are forecast by Met Éireann for Saturday with the risk of severe and potentially damaging gusts during the evening.

The rain will be heavy and persistent at times, with localised surface flooding possible.

Maximum afternoon temperatures will range 7°C to 11°C degrees generally.

Strong to gale force southeasterly winds will veer west to northwest during the course of the afternoon and evening.

In the news

  • Farmers from the IFA held a protest outside Marks & Spencer in Liffey Valley on Friday over reductions on the shelf price of some vegetables and potatoes to as low as 20c/kg.
  • Met Éireann has issued yellow weather warnings for the whole country that will be in place for all 24 hours of Saturday.
  • The PSNI is seeking information to help in the recovery of 20 cattle that have been reported stolen from Armagh.
  • Co-ops have suggested a weakening of dairy markets is reflected in lower milk prices, but IFA dairy chair Tom Phelan said the signs are there to hold the price.
  • Co Down-based agri supplier and contractor Joseph Walls spread lime for a customer near Castletown, Co Meath, earlier this week.