FarmConnect puts farmer welfare first
An innovative new pilot programme, FarmConnect, has been developed to help Irish farmers address some of the health and welfare issues that can have a serious impact on them and therefore overall farm safety.
The primary goal of FarmConnect is to improve farm safety by improving the health and well-being of every farmer.
“Scientific and academic studies have highlighted serious concerns about the poor health and work injuries of Irish farmers,” said program coordinator Clare Thomas.
“Recent research shows that Irish farmers are seven times more likely to die of heart disease than wage earners. This is just one example of farmers’ health and welfare issues.
FarmConnect argues that the situation can be corrected by helping farmers make better decisions about their own health and wellbeing, Clare said.
“We are taking a new approach by prioritizing the welfare and well-being of every farmer,” she said.
“It’s a win-win situation. Making small, practical, positive changes that improve a farmer’s personal well-being also has positive results for farm safety and productivity.
Two counties, Roscommon and Waterford, have been selected for the pilot project rollout scheduled for autumn 2022.
The project is in its final stages of development, with a new capacity building training program developed specifically for FarmConnect in tandem with a dedicated website, whose resources will include a “toolkit” for farmers focusing on health and welfare.
Qualified and experienced facilitators from the agricultural advisory and community development sectors are being recruited and trained to deliver the program to groups of farmers in the two counties.
The FarmConnect Pilot Program is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri) project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
Project partners include Men’s Development Network CLG (lead); Teagasc; Mental Health Ireland; University of Limerick; Carlow Institute of Technology; the Irish Co-operatives Society; agricultural advisers; agricultural researchers; agricultural advisers; agricultural education specialists and farmers’ representatives.
“A comprehensive evaluation will be undertaken as part of the program to capture learning with a view to developing a scalable national health and welfare capacity building program for farmers across Ireland,” Clare said. .