Friday, 27 March 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I realise time is tight. I support colleagues' views on the great effort being made to tackle this unfortunate virus. We have spoken about the economy, education and the health service but the agriculture service and agriculture community also need a mention. I want to talk about the genuine mental stress farmers are under. The Cathaoirleach produced an important report many years ago on farm safety. This is the new farm safety issue. Farmers have been very isolated and are very much by themselves. I participated in a farm discussion group conversation on Monday, using a call-in centre. That is the kind of scenario we need to start talking about.
Farmers are also experiencing financial stress. The closing of the marts last Wednesday has had a major impact on the agriculture community. Farmers realise there is no need for gathering at marts but there has to be flexibility so marts can do farm-to-farm sales, which are not allowed currently under the legislation. The legislation is allowing the movement of animals only for export. Farm-to-farm movement through the mart system needs to be looked at again so farmers will have the ability to survive. One of the issues the Cathaoirleach was so strong about years ago was farm safety. The new farm-safety issue on farms is mental health. We need to start talking about it and promoting it. It is one of the key issues for all who are trapped and need a little support.