23rd APRIL 2020 - Page 15



FARM WEEK
NEWS
G
EORGE Eustice MP has
recognised the vital importance of soil health and fertility,
in a message delivered to members
of IFOAM (International Federation
of Organic Agricultural Movements).
Speaking via video, the Minister
stated that soil health will sit at
the heart of a future agricultural
policy focused on environmental
improvement.
Locking
carbon,
reducing
ammonia emissions and making
efficient use of manures were cited
as some of the benefits of reviewing
soil management. Inspired by the
work of Sir Albert Howard, whose
pioneering work in India led to the
NOVEMBER 23 2017
We have to promote improved soil health – Eustice
formation of the Soil Association,
Eustice spoke of soil as a complex
ecosystem in need of nurturing,
as he discussed his hopes for a
policy that takes lessons from the
past whilst making use of modern
technology.
The Minister also announced that
DEFRA will be looking to the organic
sector for knowledge and techniques
that can inspire agricultural policy
and influence a wider approach to
soils.
Helen Browning, Soil Association
CEO, said: “These are hugely
welcomed
comments,
and
demonstrate that the value of
our soils, their health and critical
importance to our environment,
is being recognised at the highest
levels. An acknowledgment of the
need for soil protection, and in
particular an acknowledgement
of the lessons to be learned
from organic practices, within
agricultural policy is something we
have worked hard to secure. We
now know DEFRA is committed to
addressing this, and we look forward
to helping them build a robust and
regenerative approach to soils going
forward.”
The Soil Association is committed
to increasing soil organic matter and
has outlined a range of ways that
agriculture can adapt and improve
to protect soil health: from natural
fertilisers and rotational cropping, to
improved monitoring and methods
to reduce compaction, reducing soil
degradation and improving our soil
management is vital.
Spotlight focuses on rural development
T
RENDS and challenges
for rural development
across the UK were
the focus of discussions at
a recent Rural Development
and Networking conference
in Belfast.
Programme delivery
and policy makers from
across the UK gathered
in Belfast at the first
Rural Development and
Networking Conference
hosted by the four regional
networks support units of
the UK.
The event featured a mix
of speakers from across
Northern Ireland, England,
Scotland, Wales and Ireland
as well as representatives
from the European Network
for Rural Development.
Among those addressing
the conference, Teresa
Canavan, Chief Executive of
the RDC, and delivery agent
of the Network Support
Unit in Northern Ireland,
said, “The conference was
successful in bringing
together key stakeholders
LEFT: Pictured from left
at the recent UK Rural
Development and Networking
conference are: Tony
McCusker (RDC), Teresa
Canavan (Rural Network
for Northern Ireland, RDC),
Seamus Boland (Ireland
NRN, Irish Rural Link),
Gail Merriman (Welsh
Government), Stephen Hall
(DEFRA), Prof Sarah Skerratt
(Scotland’s Rural College),
Susan Grieve (ENRD), and
Catherine McCallum (DAERA).
of the four rural
development programmes
operating across the UK.
The programmes are worth
in excess of €7.4 billion to
the UK rural economy for
the period until 2020. The
Northern Ireland pot alone
is worth in excess of €760
million.
“The Rural Development
Programme offers huge
opportunity for rural
dwellers to pursue on- or
off-farm development,
business creation, training,
environmental initiatives,
assistance and advice.
“This conference invited
those in attendance to
create a ‘roadmap’ for the
future of rural development
across the UK. It provided
a framework through
which delegates could
share understanding
of rural areas and of
their respective Rural
Development Programmes.
“The conference
demonstrated that
everyone involved in the
delivery of the RDP are fully
committed to contributing
positively and to achieving
the progress needed to
secure the future of a
vibrant, sustainable rural
countryside for generations
to come.”
South to focus on
farm safety progress
T
HE
Health
and
Safety
Authority and Teagasc, with
FBD sponsorship and the
support of the Farm Safety
Partnership, have hosted a
‘National Conference on Farm Safety
and Health’ at the Auburn Lodge Hotel
in Ennis, Co. Clare.
Farming continues to be the most
hazardous occupation in Ireland,
consistently reporting the highest
number of fatalities in comparison to
other sectors over the last number of
years.
Making the opening address,
Minister Breen said: “Farming remains
an important part of Irish life and an
key part of our economy. Across the
farming community there have been
21 people killed due to work activity
so far in 2017. This is too high. Families
are grieving.
“We must make every effort to ensure
that workplace deaths in the farming
industry are reduced. Throughout this
year, I have engaged with stakeholders
involved in farming on this issue to
find solutions to this crisis. Progress is
being made, information and training
is out there but we need to change the
mindset and culture and ensure that
safety is a priority for farmers and
their families.
“I again repeat my call for Farmers
15
to stay safe, think about your actions,
consider your work practices. The
toll on the community and on farming
families is simply too high.”
Professor Jim Phelan, Chairman
of the Farm Safety Partnership told
the conference: “There has been
a shift in the last number of years
towards fatalities amongst older
people in agriculture and that is very
concerning. I believe that the solution
to reducing these deaths is a multiagency or multi-stakeholder approach
where we strongly target vulnerable
groups, such as elderly farmers, with
safety messages and supports. It will
take significant investment in terms of
time and money but we must address
this issue with resources.”
Dr John McNamara, Farm Safety and
Health Specialist with Teagasc said
working in a hurry is a major factor
in farm accidents, particularly in
spring when the workload increases
dramatically.
“Farmers are under increased work
pressure, as the dairy sector has
expanded due to milk quota abolition,
while dry-stock farmers are availing of
off-farm employment with the upturn
in the economy,” he explained.
“Teagasc Advisors are paying
particular attention to the organisation
of work and are assisting farmers to cut
workload through farm modification
and change in practices. We have to
look at the contributing factors that
cause farm accidents and come up
with solutions that will get buy-in from
farmers.”
Clare dry-stock farmer, Michael
Callinan told the conference how he
operates his family farm. Michael has
won three awards in the categories of
Farmyard, Livestock and Safety.
He spoke about the importance
of keeping the yard tidy and
understanding the importance of
livestock safety. He also told attendees
that safety just doesn’t happen, it
needs time and attention.
“Because I work off farm, everything
I do on the farm must be efficient, time
managed and I always consider if I can
do the job more efficiently and safer.
Every farmer must put their safety, and
their health, first every day,” he said.
Tom Coughlan, Chairman of the HSA
Board said: “The remit of the Authority
covers all sectors and workers but
it is clear that the number of deaths
occurring on Irish farms is at crisis
levels. The Board of the Authority
met here in Ennis yesterday to show
our support for this event and to hear
the speakers today.This conference
will help the Authority to develop new
strategies on farm safety.”
“These are
hugely welcomed
comments, and
demonstrate the value
of our soils”
Helen Browning, Soil
Association CEO

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