Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Farm groups slam threat of SFP safety penalties

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farm organisations have reacted angrily to suggestions that single farm payment penalties could be applied for breaches of health and safety rules on farms.

Speaking at a recent Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety conference, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said safety issues needed to be part of the CAP debate and his Department had the capacity to potentially attach safety conditions to farm supports.

Seventeen people have lost their lives in farm accidents already this year, including fatal incidents involving machinery and livestock. It is believed that, if Minister Coveney's proposal were included in farm payment conditions, Ireland would become the first country in Europe to make agricultural support payments dependent on farm safety rules.

However, the suggestion has been dismissed by the ICSA as a draconian and unnecessary attempt to help solve the problem.


ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said he unequivocally rejected the idea that penalties on single farm payments was the best way to increase farm safety compliance.

"It's a matter of education and not legislation when it comes to farm safety," he insisted. "You cannot legislate for accidents but what can be done, is all parties working together so that the farm is a safe place to be. Cutting payments to farmers is simply not the answer.

"Stripping farmers of their single payment would cause not only anger but great anxiety," he insisted.

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ICMSA president Jackie Cahill said the proposal to link a farmer's single farm payment on adherence to yet another new inspection or test was completely unnecessary and counter-productive.

"This type of spurious linkage is now the default response of public departments and agencies even when there is already more than sufficient regulations and rules that would ensure that best practice in the area of health and safety is observed. ICMSA rejects any such proposal," he said.

A spokesman for the IFA reiterated the association's view that education, awareness and promotion of farm safety were the most effective ways of reducing the number of fatalities on farms.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Consultants Association and the Health and Safety Authority are running a number of health and safety information farm walks across the country in the coming weeks.


The first farm walk will be taking place tomorrow on the farm of Brendan Johnson, Ballyglass, Charlestown, Co Sligo at 2pm.

Walks will also take place on the farm of John Cullen, Ballindoyle, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, on Wednesday, September 7, at 11am.

Another safety walk takes place on the farm of Richard Connell, Gortyowen, Goleen, Co Cork on Thursday, September 8, at 11am, and on the Roulston brothers' farm at Moneymore, Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal on September 9 at 11am.

The final farm walk in this series will take place on Tuesday, September 13, on Peter Carbery's farm, Tankerstown, Athy, Co Kildare, at 11am.

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