Macra na Feirme President Sean Finan and Finbarr McDonnell, managing director of ABP Beef (Ireland), launching the Safe Agri Skills card at last week's National Ploughing Championships.

The number of deaths, serious injuries and near misses in farming are truly frightening and we need a change of attitude in our industry.

Macra is asking members to take the lead on farm safety, with the launch of their ‘Safe Agri Skills’ card. For the first time ever those working in agriculture are asked to complete a suite of short training courses in relevant areas around farm safety.

Modules include tractor safety, livestock handling, manual handling, first aid and health for farming as well as optional extras like chainsaw use and ATV / Quad Bike safety. ‘Safe Agri Skills’ is the first and only of its kind  – a farm safety training course covering all the basics and the major causes of accidents in agriculture.

On last Wednesday at the National Ploughing Championships Macra na Feirme launched their ‘Safe Agri Skills’ card. Speaking at the launch National President Sean Finan said, “Only in agriculture is something like this seen as revolutionary. In any other industry it’s just done, no questions asked. You do not show up to work unless your safety training is up to date. We need more education about safety in farming and its initiatives like Safe Agri Skills that can provide farmers with that education’.

“For quite a few years now we have passively engaged in multiple excellent awareness campaigns highlighting farm safety issues and risk. We admired the great work done by so many and we made a comment every time we heard of the next farm accident. Then we went back to the daily grind, knowing it would never happen to us. Then it did. It was our neighbour, our cousin, the best friend’s nephew, the man who now struggles to get out of the car to buy the paper. Something has to change became the mantra. Well it has and we are starting the change”, he concluded.

Seamus Banim of ABP Ireland said they are delighted to stand behind the initiative and commented that, “Farmers are in the main self-employed so there is no one standing over them – beginning with young farmers we are asking you to take responsibility for yourself, your family and your future, to ensure the future safety and well-being of our suppliers.’

“A number of other leaders in the Agri industry have stepped up to encourage this change. ABP Food Group Ireland have partnered with us to ensure as many young people as possible get their ‘Safe Agri Skills’ card. Macra are fully aware we cannot change the statistics on our own. A new culture and a new attitude is the only way. We have to become learning centered as an industry, instead of questioning the need for reports and audits and training we have to see it as central to our very existence.

“Young farmers who are serious about making a living and a career, battling volatile incomes, rising input costs and a fast changing rural Ireland will be left behind if they are not on the top of their game. They cannot afford to lose time due to sickness or injury. All those who complete the training programme will receive a ‘Safe Agri Skills’ wallet card and certificate.

“Safe Agri Skills’ forms one section of the new ‘Master of Agri Skills’ programme which provides a structured framework within which farmers can undertake continuous professional development. The need for short specific modules to up skill in areas such as taxation, share arrangements, cash flow management, grass measurement or machinery calibration and gain credit for it fills a definite void.

“Macra na Feirme Young Farmer Skillnet is stepping up to its responsibilities to educate. We see it as vital to the future of Irish Agriculture and keeping a vibrant rural life that currently provides the backbone to Irish agriculture, tourism and how we advertise ourselves as a nation abroad. Our training courses are part funded by Skillnets through the national training fund of the Department of Education and Skills. Formal accredited courses up to degree level now form the core of agricultural education in Ireland, but encouraging young farmers to see the need and engage in further training is Macra’s goal today,” he concluded.

Courses are available nationwide and you can book your place on