The President of ICMSA has described as “seemingly contradictory” and opinions expressed by Commissioner Hogan on the possible linking of farm safety and Cross Compliance. John Comer was referring to reports in the Irish Independent quoting Commissioner Hogan as stating that ‘it is time to consider including farm safety in cross-compliance regime to help preserve human life’. Mr Comer said that while no-one doubted the Commissioner’s sincerity in addressing the terrible statistics around farm deaths and accidents, precisely not the way to go about improving or tackling the question was to add yet another layer of inspection, stress, and anxiety to the farmer’s schedule which was already marked by huge and intensive workloads for what were increasingly one-person operations.
“The idea or suggestion that the way to instil a safety consciousness in farmers is to increase regulation is absolutely self-defeating and would, in my opinion, have exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Every single rational observer knows that one of the key factors in farm accidents is the fact that for a full-time dairy farmer the workload is absolutely massive and the likelihood that the farm is a one-person operation has never been higher. What average farmer could have afforded an employee or temporary labour over the last two years? So we have more work to be done; more regulation to be complied with; more inspections to be prepared for; more paperwork to be completed and less and less time for one person to do it all in”, said the ICMSA President.
“What the EU needs to do is develop a policy that will deliver an income to farmers that allows investment in farm infrastructure including farm safety and labour saving technologies. What we need is more time to concentrate on what we’re doing – a space in which to look around and be cognisant of possible threats and safety – and adding another area of cross-compliance to the workloads will do exactly the opposite. It is genuinely mystifying to farmers that we have this idea repeated that the time-pressures generated by workload and inspection can be alleviated by even more inspections. This is contradictory and illogical. ICMSA absolutely rejects the idea that direct payments – already subject to onerous cross-compliance and conditional upon inspection – must be linked to yet another round of inspection and regulation that is one of the more obvious causes of the problem in the first case. How many times must this be repeated: workload, stress and time pressures are causes of farm accidents and fatalities – not the solution. We’re deeply committed to working on this most critical of issues – after all, it’s our members who are most directly exposed – but the solutions have to be workable and not compound the problem”, concluded Mr. Comer.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office