Farming takes mental and physical toll - McGuinness
Mairead McGuinness MEP for midlands-northwest gave the opening address at today’s Embrace Farm conference.

Farming is a "dangerous occupation" with a high level of farm accidents resulting in death or injury.

This was the view expressed by MEP Mairead McGuinness in her opening address at the Embrace Farm’s 'Resilient Farmer' Conference at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise on 25 April.

"Farms are also lonely places where increasingly farmers work alone and neighbours work off-farm,” she said.

“While we can count fatalities, we do not count pressures on farmers’ mental health and wellbeing, but we know from experience that this is an issue."

Sources of pressure

Perhaps there is also pressure on passing the farm on and sadness and a hurt when a child decides not to take on the family farm.”

“Sometimes it’s the accumulation of issues - tiredness after lambing or calving, leading to inability to sleep coupled with fears for the future - together these can push people over the edge,” she said.

The MEP also warned that rapid expansion in the dairy sector with farmers increasing cow numbers brings its own inevitable pressures. Labour shortages are very real and some dairy farmers cannot cope with large numbers of cows calving on their own.

She also cautioned against the tensions between farmers in different sectors and regions which could drive a once united community apart.

McGuinness made a call on families and neighbours to watch out for symptoms of persistent stress and support those affected.

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Farmer airlifted to hospital following cow attack
The farmer is in hospital following the attack but his condition is not life threatening.

A Cavan man in his 60s was airlifted to hospital following an attack by a cow on a farm in Bailieboro, Co Cavan.

The incident occurred at midday on Tuesday 21 May and the man received “serious injuries”, according to Gardaí.

He is currently in Tallaght University Hospital but his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

Gardaí and HSA are also investigating the death of a farmer involving a tractor which occurred in Fermoy last week.

Ireland waiting for terms of €50m Brussels beef fund - Varadkar
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday about the Brexit beef fund.

Ireland is waiting to see the terms and conditions of the €50m in funding from Brussels before it decides how the Brexit beef compensation is rolled out to farmers, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.

Fifty-million euro in exceptional aid is to be provided to beef farmers given the collapse in beef prices in recent months. Ireland “will have to provide matching funding”, Varadkar said. This brings the total fund to €100m.

He added: “We do not yet have the terms and conditions from the Commission, but as soon as we get them we will be able to develop a scheme and ensure that farmers get the money they need as soon as possible.”

However, speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal on Monday this week, EU Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan said that it will be up to the beef industry and the Department of Agriculture in Ireland to decide how the scheme is rolled out.

It will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid

“We didn’t launch the inter-service consultation within the Commission yet, which we will launch this week,” Commissioner Hogan said on Monday. "Therefore, it will be a matter for Minister Creed to sit down with the beef sector to work out how it’s going to be paid.”

Once the implementing regulation has been adopted by the Commission, it then has to be voted on by the member states in a management committee. It will be following this committee approval that the Department of Agriculture can devise the scheme.

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Call to prioritise farm-scale renewable energy
Low interest rates should help farmers and other citizens to produce green energy on their properties, the industry body MREF has said.

Large-scale Government investment in renewable energy needs to prioritise smaller projects including those on farms, the industry body representing suppliers and installers of equipment has said.

"The Government will have to prioritise and prime the actions needed by homes, businesses and farms with grants and tax incentives in the next budget to incentivise the retrofitting homes, installing renewable technologies and helping businesses and farms adapt new practices and processes to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions,” said Pat Smith, chair of the Micro Renewable Energy Federation (MREF).

Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton will announce a national plan to tackle climate change in the coming weeks across all Government departments and agencies. Smith said the country's target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1m tonnes equivalent carbon dioxide every year for the next 30 years could cost €1bn per year.

Low interest loans

“Government must also ensure that there are easily accessible low-interest loans at sub 3% levels to assist homes, businesses and farms address these issues in a planned and economically sustainable way,” Smith said.

He added that access to grid connections for producers of renewable electricity should be reformed. "For example, ESB Networks currently process a maximum of 30 grid applications a year when it is hundreds of connections that will be required."

Smith also called for free grid connections for micro-scale generators, such as rooftop solar panels, and opportunities for farmers and other building owners to export part of the surplus energy into the national grid.

EU directive

Meanwhile, the Council of European Ministers formally adopted the final set of rules forming part of the Clean Energy Package this Wednesday. These include the already-adopted Renewable Energy Directive, which will force all EU member states to allow citizens to sell part of the renewable energy they produce into the grid within two years.

Read more in our focus on renewable energy in this week's Irish Farmers Journal.

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