A new six-week health and wellbeing programme aimed at providing farmers with the tools to live and work both productively and safely is being rolled out in counties Waterford and Roscommon.
The knowledge transfer (KT) programme’s rollout will begin on Monday 19 September at various rural venues in both counties.
Waterford and Roscommon were selected for the pilot due to their contrasting agri profiles and the input of local farming representatives.
Launching the progamme on Willie Drohan’s farm in Lemybrien, Co Waterford, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon said that there is an inextricable link between the physical and mental wellbeing of farmers and farm safety - if a farmer feels run down or has a distracted mind, then their full focus cannot be on the task at hand.
The aim is to recruit 64 farmers in each county to participate in the six-week programme - with the promise that they will be better, literally, for the FarmConnect experience.
FarmConnect, a European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri) project, is funded by the Department of Agriculture and the EU’s Rural Development Programme and is focused on the physical and mental impact that contemporary farming challenges are having in Ireland.
Skilled and experienced facilitators from the agriculture adviser and community development sectors have been trained to deliver the programme in group settings.
Improving farmers’ decision-making around their individual health and wellbeing will be a key message they aim to get across.
Some other areas of focus include nutrition, stress management, mental health awareness and sleep.
With an estimated 2,500 incidents reported annually on farms, the programme’s aim is to take a fresh approach to farm safety.
Programme co-ordinator Clare Thoma said: “Small, practical, positive changes that improve a farmer’s personal wellbeing also have positive outcomes for farm safety and productivity, so we deem it a win-win situation.
“Scientific and academic studies have highlighted serious concerns about Irish farmer ill-health and occupational injury.
"Recent research shows that Irish farmers are seven times more likely to die from heart disease than salaried workers.
This is just one example of how farmers’ health can be adversely affected by their way of life.”
Interested persons in Waterford or Roscommon can register now or get more information at FarmConnect.
Alternatively, you can contact Clare Thoma on 086-816 7798 and firstname.lastname@example.org.