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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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‘If farmers are deprived of an adequate income there is a temptation to cut corners’

The Beef Plan Movement is backing the creation of a newly proposed National Farmer Health Alliance.

Its representative, Joseph Woulfe from Clare, attended a virtual showcase last week with a range of stakeholders and agencies.

The proposed alliance aims to help establish a cohesive, centralised body to support the health and well-being of those working in the Irish agri sector and their families.

National Farmer Health Alliance

In a statement to That’s Farming, following the meeting, Woulfe said:

“The meeting aimed to find common ground on health issues pertaining to the agricultural sector and to gain feedback on the environment farmers are operating within.”

“The aim was also to assess if there would be much of an uptake on this National Farmer Health Alliance initiative.”

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He reported that the meeting had a “good” attendance, notably from various farming sectors in Ireland. There were also representatives from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK, among other countries.

Woulfe highlighted that all groups attending highlighted “very similar” health issues in the industry.

“The primary issue for farmers, both here in Ireland and internationally, revolves around low incomes.”

“Many farmers are forced into having two sources of employment to create a single liveable income.”

“As a result, farmers are under considerable time constraints. They often find themselves rushing through their work to get it finished as quickly as possible.”

“This can lead to a situation where personal safety is no longer a priority. As farmers are self-employed, they hold sole responsibility for the safety of everything from their farm machinery maintenance to ensuring tasks are carried out safely.”

Farm incomes 

“However, if the farmers themselves are overworked and deprived of an adequate income (the average beef farm has an income of just €9,000), then there is a temptation to cut corners.”

He pointed out that farming has traditionally been the most dangerous sector for workers, with considerably more accidents than construction.

“This partnership aims to make working on a farm safer. It aims to get the message out to as many people as possible and to save lives.”

“We can see the alliance being of benefit to farm health. We will be working to see what can be done for the future of farmers in Ireland and beyond.”

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