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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