Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Farm Safety: Discussion

Photo of Martin BrowneMartin Browne (Tipperary, Sinn Fein)
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I welcome the Minister of State. According to www.gov.ie, farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, with roughly 21 dying every year.

My background is in farming and I have been in and out of farms for over 40 years and I have seen the dangers involved during those years. There are approximately 2,500 serious injuries annually. I also agree with what the Minister of State said about many injuries and fatalities resulting from the pressure that farmers are under and the effects of long days, especially when cutting silage and in similar periods. Even on small farms, there are always jobs to be done and jobs waiting to be done. Farmers with low incomes, like suckler farmers, do all those jobs themselves. Their incomes do not allow them to hire people to do some of the work for them. While the extra €2 million is welcome, I also agree that it will not be enough. At least it can be spent, though, and I hope it will be spent wisely.

Turning to my questions, does the Minister of State think that low-income farms account for many instances of accidents and injuries? The Minister of State also said that the Health and Safety Authority has the day-to-day responsibility in this area. Does he perceive the Department playing a more involved role in the future? The witnesses from Embrace FARM, who will be in with us later, have highlighted the impact of fatalities and serious injuries on the families of the people involved in such accidents. The opening statement submitted by the group states that "Legislators need to put the farmers first, not just the product they are producing". Does the Minister of State believe that the way those operating in the agricultural industry are being treated, in respect of the demands handed down to them, is right? Does he think that enough attention has been paid to the pressure these farmers are under to comply with the various demands being made on them?