A new initiative that will see 800 agricultural advisers trained to engage with farmers on their health and wellbeing - called ‘On Feírm Ground’ - has been launched.
The programme has been in development for the last 12 months and is a collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, Teagasc and IT Carlow.
The first training is scheduled to be delivered to advisers in early November 2020. It will be led by the charity, The Men’s Development Network.
At the programme’s launch, Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety Martin Heydon said: “There is ample evidence out there to show that farmer health and wellbeing plays a major role in farm safety.
“How can a farmer successfully look after crops or animals if they cannot look after themselves? How can you get an improvement in physical safety if the welfare of the farmer is being ignored?”
He was confident that the training of advisers to engage with farmers over the farmgate would have a significant impact.
Minister of State for public health and welbeing Frank Feighan also attended the launch.
“‘On Feírm Ground' presents a genuine opportunity to equip farm advisers with a toolkit of supports in relation to physical and psychological wellbeing," he said.
“Farmers, male and female, will directly benefit by being able to access reliable and consistent health information and support to improve their health and wellbeing.”
Along with the launch of the initiative, an interim report was also published by researchers at IT Carlow led by Dr Noel Richardson, director of IT Carlow's National Centre for Men's Health.
Dr Richardson said: “It is well established that, compared to other occupational groups, farmers in Ireland experience a disproportionate burden of health problems, which undermine the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of farming.
"The report highlights a multitude of challenges concerning experiences with farming and the broader occupation of farming, including isolation and the decline of rural communities, issues relating to succession and inheritance, increasing pressures to scale up, changing farming roles and increasing paperwork demands, stresses associated with seasonal workloads, financial stress, and the pressures associated with being self-employed.”
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