More than one in four young farmers have ended up in A&E as a result of a farm accident, according to results from the Macra na Feirme survey of participants in the FBD Young Farmer of the Future competition.
The statistic will confirm a long-held belief that the number of accidents actually occurring at farm level has been hugely under-estimated over the years. Almost 70pc of these accidents were caused by machinery, livestock or falls. Other reasons cited included falling objects, fire and electrocution.
With the number of tragic farm fatalities hitting the headlines in 2014, health and safety was a big topic in this year's survey. Almost two in three respondents believe that more needs to be done to promote health and safety issues on farms.
This comes despite a marked increase in farm inspections by the HSA in recent years, coupled with high-profile ad campaigns targeted at warning farming audiences of the dangers in the farmyard.
Despite their desire to see a more proactive approach taken on safety, almost two thirds of respondents don't believe that the latest Government initiative that requires newly qualified drivers to display an N-plate on their vehicles will make roads any safer.
In fact, the majority already look set to be on a collision course with the law by not adhering to new requirements for a license to pull a trailer. Almost three out of four of respondents owned up to not having passed the test that is now compulsory for everybody that wants to pull a standard livestock trailer, if their licence was issued after November 1989.
THE ANNUAL Macra survey of competitors in the FBD Farmer of the Future competition is always a good yardstick of what Ireland’s next crop of serious commercial farmers are thinking.
There were some light-hearted questions in the survey, such as what they thought about one-night stands? - to which it would seem that the majority couldn’t care less about.
But there were also probing questions that should ring alarm bells for industry leaders, especially those in the beef sector.
You would expect that a selection of young farmers who feel confident enough to put themselves forward as a candidate for Ireland’s farmer of the future would be optimistic about their chosen career.
So when 45pc of respondents declare that they see no viability in sucklers, you know that this is a very sick sector.
The reality is borne out by the figures released by Teagasc this week. They show the performance of nearly 900 beef farmers that complete a profit monitor each year.
While the top third are returning a profit of just over €100/ac, it is at a pitiful level when compared to the equivalent dairy farms.
Bear in mind that profit monitor farmers are reckoned to be within the top 25-30pc in terms of performance.
Their equivalents in the dairy sector are buying up land on the strength of their profits. I’d like an introduction to the bank that’s going to entertain a land-loan on the back of profits of €100/ac.
Darragh McCullough, Deputy Editor