Farmers can expect to see all schemes rolled out in the next CAP to have a strong focus on health and safety requirements, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon has advised.
The next CAP is due to begin on 1 January 2023 and the process of preparing new schemes and measures as part of the development of Ireland’s national strategic plan is currently under way.
Minister Heydon, who has special responsibly for farm safety, told the Seanad on Monday it was his view that all measures in the strategic plan should have a health and safety element incorporated.
“I am working with my officials to develop measures in the next CAP that will reflect that,” the minister said.
“You can expect to see health and safety requirements feature strongly in our training programmes for farmers and advisers, as well as through the various measures from on-farm investments to livestock schemes and the rest.”
Minister Heydon was responding to a question from Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne.
Senator Byrne said it was important that farmer mental health and wellbeing, as well as farm safety considerations, were factored into the next CAP.
“Of all the many industries in Ireland, there has been a huge amount of farm safety accidents and a lot of them have ended up obviously in tragedy, which is really, really sad,” she said.
“I really believe that now is an opportune time, when CAP is being looked at, that we give assurance to farmers, because I believe they are the lifeblood of our culture here in Ireland.”
Minister Heydon agreed, adding that the number of fatalities on Irish farms was “unacceptably high”.
“Agriculture accounts for 6% of the workforce totally in the country, yet 50% of the fatalities,” he said.
“We had a late notification in February of this year for a death that happened last year, so now our numbers for last year officially are 20.
“Of those 20 who lost their lives, nine were farmers over the age of 65 and three were children under the age of eight - these figures are unacceptably high.”