Fine Gael’s Tim Lombard has called for a campaign to prevent a potential spike in farm fatalities in light of delays to silage cutting and harvesting.
Lombard said that the weather of late has resulted in a backlog for agricultural contractors, and as a result, he is “very concerned about the statistics for farm safety”.
He told the Seanad that May 2021 will “be recorded as being the wettest May ever” due to heavy rainfall.
“The rainfall has had knock-on effects on the agricultural community because, traditionally, ten or 11 days of silage cutting would have been completed.”
“As there is now a backlog, the end of this month and the month of June will be very busy. I am also very concerned about the statistics for farm safety during these few months.”
In the last decade, the senator said, that with machinery and farm accidents but particularly with machinery, 118 people were killed, of which 13 were minors.
“The next four weeks will be a very busy period. We need a debate and a campaign that urges people to be responsible on farms.”
12-14 days behind schedule
“Safety on farms is a real worry because there is going to be real pressure on contractors. Farmers need to realise that silage has always been cut and that although the work may be ten, 12 or 14 days behind, they do not need to put their contractors under so much pressure.”
“We do not need to put everyone in society under so much pressure. We do not need to start talking about working 24 hours a day because we know that fatalities happen when people make mistakes.”
“I do not want to see a peak in farm fatalities between the end of May and into the month of June due to pressure being placed on contractors. Therefore, we need a campaign to combat a potential spike.”
He has called on the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Martin Heydon, who has direct responsibility for farm safety, to roll-out a campaign.
He suggested it should revolve around calling on “people to calm down and reiterate that the silage will be cut”.
“There is no need for anyone to lose their lives because life is precious,” he concluded.
Teagasc has provided guidance surrounding delays to cutting and harvesting silage in this article.