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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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Challenges widows face as a result of farm accidents

Women, in all stages of their lives, widowed and left behind to pick up the pieces, both emotionally and practically, following a farm accident are among those Embrace FARM encounters.

The charity shed light on the matter during its appearance before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine last week.

General manager, Norma Rohan, told attendees about some of the people the charity assists.

She spoke of the changes and difficulties women who are widowed and “left behind” following a farm accident may face.

Embrace Farm 

She listed the following:

  • Legal and financial difficulties: No will in place or access to the farm bank A/C;
  • Succession: What does a young widow do with the farm? Older widows may have an adult child to take over, but a younger widow with young children faces the dilemma of what to do – farm it, lease or sell. Does she hold on to it for her children? Will they want to farm it in 10 or 15 years? “So many questions, but her husband is no longer there to help figure it out.”
  • Farm enterprise regulations/schemes: She said some widows are very familiar with the workings of daily farm life, but others are not. She asked how they can begin to navigate the myriad of paperwork, meeting deadlines for schemes and regulations. “One lady told us of how she used to see what the neighbour was at. He is spreading slurry today. Ok, so I need to get that done.” “Another lady told us of being fined by the DAFM for missing a deadline on a scheme that she didn’t even know she was to apply for,” she added.
  • Children’s grief: Rohan said a mother’ primary concern will be for her children and how they are coping. She added that a trauma a child goes through in witnessing their father or sibling being killed on a farm is something that needs specialised help to get through.
  • Further family breakdown: She said often, there are “many” opinions on what should happen. “Parent’s in-law may not be happy with the widow’s decisions. Grandchildren may face a further loss of their grandparents as families fall out. We have seen instances of injunctions taken out against parent’s in-laws; thankfully, it is rare, but it does happen.”

She explained Embrace FARM also encounters others, in the following circumstances, which we will cover in a separate article.

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  • Parents who have lost their child in traumatic circumstances;
  • Adults who mourn the death of their father, the loss of their mentor, the person they work with each day;
  • Men and sometimes women who have to adapt to living each day with a life-altering disability following an accident.

As reported by That’s Farming, she explained how the charity’s foundation came to light and the services it offers across Ireland.

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