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MAY 2019
Embrace FARM Conference 2019
With already five confirmed tragic farm deaths in rural Ireland this year, it was timely that Embrace
FARM, the Farm Accident Support Network, held its first Resilient Farmers Conference on April 25.
The Resilient Farmers' Conference, which was held in
conjunction with Rural Support (Northern Ireland) and
Farm Safety Foundation (UK), focused on issues affecting
farmers' health and wellbeing and what our agricultural
industry, both private and public, can do to build a
community of support for the sector. The conference
is the second of three conferences taking place in
Northern Ireland, Ireland and the UK. Set up by Brian
and Norma Rohan after Brian lost his father in a farm
accident in 2014, Embrace FARM aims to provide a caring
and supportive agri-community for all affected by farm
accidents. "The aim of these three conferences is to open
the conversation between industry and farmers regarding
the pressures that farmers are under and gain a better
understanding of mental health and growing concerns in
rural communities," Brian said. "Industry needs to value
farmers and not just the product they are getting."
Over 120 attendees included farm-accident survivors,
representatives from the beef and dairy agri-industries,
Agri Aware, the Department of Agriculture, Food and
the Marine, Teagasc, Macra na Feirme, Mental Health
Ireland, Health Safety Association, and the Irish Farmers'
Association. Delivering the welcome address, Mairead
McGuinness MEP discussed the increasing pressures felt
by farmers in Ireland. "There is an accumulation of issues,
whether it is tiredness from lambing or calving, or lack of
sleep from worrying about the future, there is continuous
stress and often this stress is dealt with alone.
According to Mairead, there are serious concerns
surrounding this `dangerous occupation' as more and
more farmers can't afford to hire extra help on the
farm and so are dealing with large herds calving with
no support available to them. She emphasised the
importance of communities coming together instead of
local farmers being competitive with each other.
This view of communities needing to `look after each
other' was echoed by Maria Feeney, Department of
Sociology in Dublin City University's Institute of
Education, William Sayer and Kevin McGarry, both farm-
accident survivors, as they conducted a panel discussion
on issues affecting rural life. Maria outlined that, although
life in rural Ireland can be perceived as a better place to
raise a family and have a more rewarding quality of life,
the reality of limited access to certain services, network
connections, and a greater concentration of older people
and social inequality, can seriously impact on overall
mental and physical health outcomes. "Such realities can
affect one's resilience or limits one's capacity to build
resilience and stay well," she said. "Internalising problems
is very common in rural communities especially among
farmers, so it is important that communities look out for
each other."
William and Kevin both agreed and spoke about how,
by not looking after farmers, there will eventually be no
farming industry for others to work in. "We, as a team,
must look after each other. We need each other."
Farm Insurance
Farming. It's in our roots.
Protection. It's in our nature.
It's in our nature.
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Maura Canning, Galway IFA; Liam McCarthy, Portaferry, Co. Down,
Northern Ireland Farm Safety Partnership; Brian Rohan, Chairperson/
Co-Founder Embrace FARM; Shane Whelan, AIB Agri Manger, Wicklow;
Mairead McGuinness MEP & Vice President of the EU Parliament.