A cash-strapped industry can never be a safe industry – and farming will continue to claim lives as long as it suffers from the full force of the corporate retail sector’s price pressure.
With that claim, Northern Ireland’s Farmers For Action lobby group has begun a fresh push for legislation to set minimum farmgate prices for the province. FFA has long maintained that low income is the huge missing link in farm deaths and accidents, where many farmers are being financially forced to work excessive hours, creating tiredness and raising the possibility of accidents when they should be in a financial position to employ staff.
“Whilst Northern Ireland farm fatalities have dropped in 2016 and this is good news, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, in what are very often challenging circumstances on our farms,” said FFA spokesman Samuel Morrison.
“With agriculture being the most unsafe industry across the UK and with this week’s Southern Ireland Health and Safety Authority announcement of an increase in 2016 fatalities, the HSA has confirmed that farming is Ireland’s most dangerous profession, as 21 people lost their lives in farm accidents in 2016.
“It is now time to address farm incomes with legislation on farm gate prices for Northern Ireland to return farmers a minimum of the cost of production inflation linked plus a margin,” said Mr Morrison.
“NI’s politicians must support this legislation when presented to Stormont as it would allow our family farmers to invest in the latest safe machinery and equipment, the latest safe livestock handling equipment, the latest safe equipment for shed repairs and the financial option to call in the experts.
“In short, legislation on farm gate prices will save lives, transform NI in terms of creating employment – 20,000 jobs plus – and save Stormont at least £280million in welfare, whilst putting NI at the forefront across the world of how to end rural poverty to everyone’s advantage.”
Source: The Scottish Farmer