The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has received calls from members who are concerned about passengers travelling with tractor drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An extra person riding within the cab of the tractor has become a serious issue for farmers who have employed contractors to carry out routine farm tasks and silage season is also approaching, the organisation outlined.
Reduce the spread of Covid-19
Commenting on the issue, UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said that the organisation has repeatedly called on agricultural contractors to adhere to the Public Health Agency’s advice to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which included prohibiting a passenger to travel with them in the cab of a tractor.
“We’re still in the midst of the biggest health emergency of our generation and while the majority are doing as advised, it’s disappointing that there are a number of people who are not complying to the public health guidance.”
“Their decision to dismiss Government’s advice is putting themselves and everyone around them at risk and is disrespecting the efforts of our healthcare workers on the frontline.”
“Routine farm maintenance tasks must be completed but there is no need for the driver to be accompanied by another person. If the driver of an agricultural vehicle permits another individual to travel with them in the cab, the chances of an accident occurring increases dramatically, Chestnutt added.
“The National Health Service is under enough pressure battling against COVID-19 and the last thing our emergency services need is to attend to a farm accident.”
Sends out the ‘wrong message’ about farmers
“Everyone in the agricultural industry needs to address this kind of irresponsible behaviour should they be a witness to it.”
“It is vital that farmers do not tolerate another passenger accompanying contractors who are working on their farm and help to stamp out such behaviour.”
He is also urging contractors to make it clear to their drivers that permitting passengers is not an option, especially at this time as it “sends out the wrong message about farmers being irresponsible and also increases the risk of an accident occurring”.