FERMANAGH’S elder farmers are getting a raw deal when it comes to funding for safety.
Tom Elliott, who is the MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone claimed that farmers in the county and the rest of the North who are over 40 are being looked over for grants to improve working conditions compared to those under that age.
He stated that the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) appears to be favouring the younger farmer and insisted that older ones should be entitled to funding as well given they face the same safety challenges as well.
“Following the publication of a recent Health and Safety report,” said the UUP Agricultural, Environment & Rural Affairs spokesman, “which highlighted that 28 fatalities involved 18-65 years old males, there were 14 men over 65 killed in the agriculture sector.
“This demonstrates that elderly farmers are most at risk from fatal work accidents.
“Many of the grants available to improve farms especially farm equipment & buildings give special consideration to young farmers under the age of 40, which we understand the reasons for. But what about our older farmers who face the same challenges.
“In the report, it stated that many of the accidents were of those of individuals falling from a height.
“Given that the largest demographic of farmers is that of over 40 many of an older generation are being discriminated against in the application rounds and thus, their farm buildings are greatly defected especially tin roofs.
“This would lead to a far greater risk of their safety compared to those of a younger generation as many of these roofs will be some form of patch job by the farmers themselves.
“Therefore I would ask the DAREA to give due consideration in future application rounds with the award of additional points within grant applications to older farmers for health and safety aspects of the funding.”
A spokesman for DAERA insisted that safety for all in the agricultural sector was a priority.
He said “DAERA is committed to enhancing the safety of our farmers, families and their employees through significant input to the ongoing campaign of farm safety awareness in association with our partners on the Farm Safety Partnership.
“Agriculture remains as our most dangerous industry and the need to increase awareness of farm safety within the farming community is a priority for all working in the sector.
“Investments that contribute to enhanced on-farm Health and Safety are considered as part of the assessment processes of the Farm Business Improvement Scheme and all applicants to the scheme must complete a “Making It Safer” assessment.
“This online tool, which was developed in conjunction with the Farm Safety Partnership, allows farmers to carry out a simple risk assessment and help them manage their farm in such a way that it is safer for themselves, families and employees.
“The “Making It Safer” tool is available online at www.farmsafenet.org/Safer and all farmers are encouraged to use it.
“The actions of the Farm Safety Partnership have been successful in increasing farm safety awareness within the farming community, however, there is no room for complacency. There must be willingness from everyone who lives and works on our farms to think about their safety and the safety of others.”
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