Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Farm Safety: Discussion

Photo of Victor BoyhanVictor Boyhan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I appreciate that. I thank the Chair and Senator Daly. I have to go to the Seanad for Private Members' business. I welcome the Minister of State. He comes from my neck of the woods, Narraghmore in County Kildare, so I know of his reputation and commitment to agriculture, particularly young farmers coming into the sector. He has always been proactive there. He is highly placed and liked in the sector, which is an important facet coming into any Ministry. I like the fact he has focused on farm safety as part of his responsibility and his Ministry.

What is a farm accident? It is worth stopping and thinking about that. A farm accident is an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally. It typically results in damage; in many cases there is loss of life and injury. We have to look at it in that context. Too many accidents lead to blame games. I know family members who have been involved in serious farm accidents involving chainsaws, ploughs and stuff. We need to be conscious that no one sets out to have a farm accident. They happen unintentionally and result in great injury and distress to family and the community.

Given the complexities of farming today, the Minister of State and members will appreciate that a farmer effectively has to be an accountant, to be a safety officer, to be computer literate and to deal with piecemeal schemes like BEAM and knowledge transfer partnerships, etc. There are enormous pressures on farmers in terms of finance and delivering on their farms and making them successful. That feeds into a sense of anxiety and speed and a need to get things done. That is not to make an excuse but it is part of the context around some accidents that happen on farms. There are all different ages and groups. Recently we had a major incident in Cavan which I will not go into but it was traumatic for the family involved.

I will take up the question of the green certificate. I have spoken to people who have completed the green cert. I am shocked and, in some cases, I do not believe they have even been on a farm. That is a strange thing to say. We need to look at the training modules for green certs and at who is monitoring the modules. Are they up to scratch and up to standard? Are they what they say on the tin? Many people seek and need a green cert for various reasons but I think we should look at it again. I would like to see a greater emphasis on the green cert and on monitoring, training and practical learning on farms. That includes agricultural colleges but not everyone who does green certs is in an agricultural college or has that opportunity. That is the key message I would like to leave with the Minister of State.

I acknowledge the enormous of Embrace FARM, particularly Councillor Gabe Cronnelly from Galway, who has done enormous work and has been in touch with the Minister of State office in relation to that. Their work is important because where life is lost there is sadness. There are many things that go and they stay on the farm. They do not disappear. I acknowledge the enormous work and support they provide. I also acknowledge the enormous financial commitments in this budget for farm safety, which the Minister of State is responsible for. I wish him well and I wish Embrace well in challenging and always difficult times around accidents that no one sets out to have. I thank the Minister of State for coming and am sorry I have to leave.


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