Helping to define NI agriculture
The size of the equipment used and the number of livestock maintained on most farms today is making this a reality.
And, of course, seasonal concerns associated with the likes of slurry mixing, spreading and silage making will always remain a safety priority. Keeping children safe is an ongoing priority for every farming family. And this is particularly so in the wake of the Stormont Executive’s decision to close the schools at the end of March.
Given this backdrop, it is right and proper to conclude that farm safety awareness is helping to define agriculture in Northern Ireland. And this is the way it should be.
Thankfully, there is a growing awareness that safety is an issue that must permeate every aspect of a farm business. In the past, there would have been very little discussion about safety-related matters in farming circles. Today, in total contrast, it is an issue that dominates discussion in both rural areas and across all our air waves. This is all very positive. And I am happy to confirm that the work of the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) over the past eight years has helped bring this set of circumstances about. But the work must continue.
Had it not have been for the Covid-19 crisis, FSP would have rolled out its new three-year development plan over recent weeks. It goes without saying that this matter will be acted upon as a matter of priority, once circumstances allow this to happen.
FSP is funded by the Department of Finance, in tandem with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the members of the Stormont Executive for making farm safety awareness and accident prevention such a priority. It is also incumbent upon me to highlight the tremendous commitment of FSP affiliate members, including the ABP Food Group, in making our work all the more meaningful.
But this is not about money. Our affiliates are playing a crucial and proactive role in helping to develop a strong farm safety awareness ethos. This is all about co—operation with everyone involved working towards the common goal of improving farm safety standards here in Northern Ireland.
No accident is intentional. But at the same time every accident is avoidable. We know that factors such as poor prices, poor weather and stress can predispose farmers to the greater risk of accidents taking place.
My direct message to every farmer and family member in Northern Ireland is this: please put your safety and the safety of others first as you go about your day-to-day activities. Take that extra minute or two to work through the implications of every task that has to be undertaken. And never take risks!”
Liam McCarthy, ABP Food Group, said: “ABP Food Group fully supports the work of the Farm Safety Partnership. We are a long-standing affiliate member of the organisation. ABP has always been committed to promoting the highest safety standards on farms. For example, on-farm safety advice has featured prominently at all our sites in Northern Ireland for many years. This signage can be easily viewed by farmers as they queue up to leave stock off at the lairage and, again, as they leave each location.
“Traditionally we have always used Balmoral Show as an opportunity to promote safe farming practises. This policy will be maintained. Every farm accident is a tragedy for the families involved. Farm deaths get all the headlines. However, many accidents take place on local farms, which the farming and general public never seem to hear about.
“Each of these events can have catastrophic consequences for those involved, particularly if the person affected has no one within the family circle to carry on the day-to-day operation of the business.
“It is critically important that all affected families get the support that they need.
“But it’s also imperative that other farmers are made fully aware of the fact that these accidents have happened and that they can take the preventative steps to ensure they are not repeated.”