Almost every month, in Matt Ryan's Management Hints article he puts a note at the end advising farmers to take a break.
For one reason or another, it's probably the most valuable advice that farmers don't take on board. This month he leads with the theme and stresses the importance of health. He encourages farmers get an MOT done by the doctor and ensure your physical and mental health is in check.
I was delighted to see that Teagasc, in conjunction with The National Centre for Men's Health, recently launched a Staying Fit For Life booklet. It deals with everything from stress to diet to back health – ailments which affect everyone, including farmers.
Recent research by the Health Service Executive found that farmers have much higher death rates than most other groups in the occupational age range of 15 to 64 years old. In fact, the research found that the death rate of farmers was over five times higher than salaried employees, who had the lowest death rate.
Farmers have particularly high mortality from circulatory diseases, cancers, injuries and poisonings.
If that's not indicative enough of the value of your health, research from the Teagasc National Farm Survey indicates that poor health leads to an average income reduction of 15 per cent, but in individual cases the reduction can be much greater. Being unhealthy will affect your pocket and a healthy farmer is less likely to suffer a farm accident.
This winter make yourself and your health a priority. Visit the doctor, look at your diet and take some exercise. Your health is your wealth.
The booklet was launched at the National Ploughing Championships, which had record crowds attend this year. Hopefully every farmer picked up a copy, but if you didn't, it's available to read or download, free, from www.hsa.ie, www.teagasc.ie, and the HSE.