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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I want 2022 to be the year when farmers stop and think every morning’

“I want 2022 to be the year when farmers stop and think every morning before they go out on the farm about what they are going to do for the day and how they will do it safely.”

That is the key message Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with Special Responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon, has issued to farmers.

Minister Heydon has asked farmers to keep safety at the forefront of their minds when working on farms over the Christmas and new-year period.

He has urged farmers to reflect on 2021 and plan for 2022.

He believes that Ireland can reduce the rate of serious and fatal incidents through a cultural change on farms, focusing on safe behaviours and practices.

“To date, there have been nine fatal accidents on farms in 2021. While this is an improvement on recent years, it is still nine farms that have suffered an irreversible loss.”

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“We cannot get complacent; we need to see a sustained improvement in the years ahead.

Farm Risk Assessment

Minister Heydon urged all farmers to take time to review their farms’ safety over the Christmas period.

He said farmers should consider updating their Farm Risk Assessment, which helps identify and address risks on farms.

The minister said farmers need to ask themselves:

  • How many identified risks did I deal with over the last year?
  • What risks that have been identified in the risk assessment will I address this year?
  • Does the risk assessment reflect all the risks on my farm?
Children and over 65s

Minister Heydon said: “As we take time with our families over Christmas, we must remember that the most vulnerable people on any farm are children and those over the age of 65.”

“A farm is a wonderful place to spend the holidays, but we must be conscious that they remain working environments.”

Calving season

He said the calving season is also just around the corner, and the first newborns will arrive in the coming days.

The minister reminded farmers that cows, particularly heifers, can be unpredictable during or after calving and may become aggressive. “They are involved in more fatal incidents than bulls,” he added.

“Now is the time to plan for a safe calving season. Start by asking yourself, are my facilities in good condition?”

“Do they allow me to always keep a barrier between myself and the cow when I am handling the calf?

“If changes are required to the facilities or systems, now is the time to do it,” he concluded.

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