Budget 2023 will deliver additional resources to the priority areas of research and farm safety.
That is according to Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, who addressed media at a press briefing earlier this morning (Wednesday, September 28th, 2022).
Firstly, he confirmed that the DAFM’s dedicated farm safety budget will increase to €2.5m in 2023.
He told media: “Farm safety remains a priority for me. Unfortunately, as of today, ten people have lost their lives in fatal farm incidents this year.”
“That is ten too many – ten farms, families, and communities left devastated. That is why we are putting more resources into this area.”
“We know farm safety is inextricably linked to farmer mental health and well-being.”
“That is why I plan to extend the On Feirm Ground initiative. It equips farm advisors, who are people one of the most trusted people in farmers’ lives, with tools to spot farmers who are showing signs of distress and to signpost supports to them.”
“It has been very successful so far, and our feedback has been very positive on it. I believe that we should never miss an opportunity to engage with farmers with anybody who enters the farm gate.”
“That is why I plan to extend that programme next year to include other professionals working with farmers.”
Furthermore, the minister stated that he wishes to prioritise “getting more” physical safety infrastructure onto farms.
Next year, there will be a €90m budget for TAMS, and the minister has sought a 60% grant rate for farm safety investments, subject to EU approval.
The minister pointed to recent figures from Teagasc that show there are over 4,500 non-fatal incidents on farms every year.
He commented: “Over half these incidents involve livestock, and I want to make it more feasible for farmers to invest in better animal handling facilities: units and calving pens.”
“To assist farmers in making the best use of the higher grant rate, I will work with others in the sector to create a resource for farmers on best design practices for these investments in animal handling units and calving pens.”
“This will not only help to reduce the number of injuries but also increase work efficiency, particuarly for older farmers who are working along.”
Moreover, there will also be additional funding through the European Innovation Partnership Scheme (EIPs) to support locally-led farm safety projects.
Secondly, the minister has strengthened the department’s research fund to €20m ahead of a “significant” call for new projects next year.
He told media that this will ensure a “steady” pipeline of climate solutions for the sector in the coming years, “giving us time to implement the science and technology that is available to us today”.
During his address, the minister also pointed to the “important” role the DAFM’s funded-research projects have played in the field to date.
He outlined that solutions through research will be a “central” part in ensuring a “competitive, sustainable and strong” industry. Minister Heydon pointed to the important role DAFM-funded research has played to date.
He pointed to the RumenPredict project and METH-ABATE, the latter of which is currently testing novel feed additives and validating their ability to reduce methane emissions from our pasture-based system.
“This demonstrates the research pipeline in action, and accelerating our investment in research will help us reach sectoral emission targets.”
“The projects we fund next year will deliver further solutions in the second half of this decade,” he concluded.