Farmer and international rugby star Seán O’Brien becomes a Champion for Change
Following from accidents in his local community and a near miss experience, Ireland international rugby star and farmer Seán O’Brien becomes one of FBD's Champion for Change.

Seán O'Brien has become one of FBD's Champions for Change, urging farmers around the country to stay vigilant and safe in a determined effort to tackle farm fatalities, injuries and accidents.

Champions for Change is a major national farm safety initiative sponsored by FBD, which is aimed at targeting an immediate reduction in farm related deaths. Some 30 people, including five children, died in the farming sector last year.

The campaign works by using digital technology to create a nationwide community of interest, discussion and support around the issues involved.

Rugby star Seán O’Brien will front the FBD Champions for Change campaign in a series of online TV, print and digital advertisements designed to promote participation.

Commenting on his decision to become a Champion for Change, O'Brien said he is "asking everyone to join the Champions for Change movement and to dedicate themselves to safety on their farms throughout Ireland. This campaign isn’t about being told what to do. It’s about us as farmers taking the responsibility and keeping our farms safe. All it takes is one step at a time, doing the necessary jobs, taking the right precautions and getting safer and safer as you go along. That will help to reduce accidents and fatalities everywhere and it really can’t come a minute too soon where one death or one injury is one too many.”

At the launch, the rugby star revealed that, as well accidents occurring in his local community, he too has experienced a near-miss on his family farm when his father had an accident during calving time and luckily survived the experience. It was the potentially devastating outcome of this incident, which was avoided, and his wish to make people actively aware of farm safety issues that led O'Brien to join Champions for Change.

“As a farming family, we’ve always been very conscious of the need for farm safety but nobody is infallible and accidents can happen. My heart goes out to anyone bereaved or injured by a farm accident. It’s very hard to imagine what that’s like and nobody should have to go through such heartache.”

Michael Berkery, FBD Chairman said, “Farmers everywhere can join with Seán O’Brien to prevent accidents and hopefully save lives by joining the Champions for Change programme. Changing our usual way of doing things can be challenging but because farming is a tough and demanding occupation with plenty of workplace hazards, it’s time to stop taking risks and prevent any unnecessary heartache."

Figures from the Health & Safety Authority show that (across all industry sectors) 55 people were killed in work-related accidents in 2014, the highest rate of fatalities since 2008. Fatalities in the Agriculture sector increased by 87% in 2014, with 30 people (including 5 children) killed compared to 16 in 2013. For the fifth year running the Agriculture sector recorded the highest number of fatalities, representing over half of all work related deaths in 2014. More than 2,500 serious accidents occur on Irish farms each year.

Good week/bad week: winners and losers in Irish farming
We take a look at who had a week to remember in Irish farming and who had a week to forget.

It was a good week for…

  • Farmers in the Sheep Welfare Scheme, as the Department of Agriculture confirmed that payments under the scheme are to issue from the end of November.
  • Beef factories, after an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended their right to make a profit from the industry.
  • Farmers in general, as more farmers are set to gain from the new Areas of Natural Constraint maps which will be released this month.
  • The Irish Farmers Journal, as it took home the Digital Excellence award at the 2018 Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards held in the Mansion House on 15 November.
  • It was a bad week for. . .

  • Aurivo suppliers, as it announced a 1c/l price cut for October milk, with suppliers receiving a base price of 29.4c/l excluding VAT.
  • UK prime minister Theresa May, as despite finally coming to agreement with the EU on a withdrawal agreement, her Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey resigned.
  • Those in the Fair Deal scheme, as further delays appear to be in store for long-awaited changes to the nursing home scheme.
  • Some farmers, as despite updated legislation and Government guidelines, some actively farmed land remains on the register of sites carrying a heavy tax liability in the new year.
    The farmer's daily wrap: plant-based 'steak' and Nuffield conference
    Here is your news roundup of the five top farming stories and weather outlook for 17 November.

    Weather forecast

    Saturday is forecast to be a mostly dry day, with a few patches of mist and drizzle.

    Met Éireann has said that cloud will break at times to allow a few bright or sunny spells through.

    Top temperatures will vary between 11°C to 14°C.

    In the news

  • A new plant-based ‘steak’ appeared on the shelves in Tesco Ireland this week.
  • Looking at the weekend weather, it will be mostly fine and sunny, with some mist and drizzle in parts.
  • Payments to farmers under year two of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are due to hit accounts by the end of November.
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has defended the right of beef factories to make a profit from the industry.
  • Leadership and the ability to attract good people to work on dairy farms dominated the conversation at this year’s Nuffield Ireland annual conference in Dublin on Friday.
  • Coming up this Saturday

  • More details on the Shannon dredging points.
  • Five reasons you should go to Dairy Day 2018.
  • We go island-hopping - Mayo style.
    EU cuts tax on Russian fertiliser by one third
    The one-third cut in anti-dumping duty is equal to €12/t on CAN.

    The EU Commission has cut duties on Russian ammonium nitrate by one third, raising the prospect of more competition in supply of nitrogen fertilisers and downward pressure on prices.

    The decision follows the Commission’s two-year review of the anti-dumping duties, made at the request of the IFA and other EU farm organisations. The duties have been in place for decades.


    The change, confirmed this week in the Official Journal of the European Union, sees duties cut from €47/t to €32/t for most grades of ammonium nitrate.

    The reduction equates to €12/t on CAN, according to the IFA.

    This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness

    “Irish fertiliser suppliers must reflect this reduction in CAN prices to the trade,” IFA Munster chair John Coughlan said.

    He also called for a change in how fertiliser prices are quoted to farmers.

    “Many merchants complain that they can’t obtain quotes from importers or blenders. That needs to change.

    "Irish merchants should move to quoting for fertiliser on a 24/7 basis, reflecting the way business is done from manufacturers to blenders and distributors.”

    2019 review

    The EU Commission will carry out a periodic review of its anti-dumping duties on Russian ammonium nitrate in 2019.

    IFA president Joe Healy said that the Commission should introduce a minimum import price system.

    “This would protect farmers and help restore incomes and competitiveness. Some EU manufacturers have become accustomed to double-digit profit margins due to the protection afforded by EU anti-dumping duties and customs tariff.”

    Read more

    Analysis: are we entering a period of fertiliser price rises?

    EU on track to cut fertiliser tax