Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon, has today (Thursday), encouraged all farmers to apply for a Farm Safety Scheme grant and to use the funds to address the very important issue of farm safety. The new Farm Safety Scheme announced yesterday by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD will allocate €12.2 million to upgrading safety features on Irish farms.

“Farm deaths have more than doubled this year compared to the same period last year, with 22 people having lost their lives so far in 2014. Farms are places of work, but they are no ordinary work-place; farms are active early in the morning, in the middle of the night, during snow storms, when the rain is pelting down and in the height of the summer. Farms are also often homes, and as a result, children are part of the fabric of farm life. All of these things are positive aspects of farm life but in reality, they make farming one of the most hazardous professions.

“As part of Budget 2015, Minister Coveney announced the introduction of a new Farm Safety Scheme which will make €12.2 million available to farmers. Grants of up to €8,000 will be awarded on a spend of €20,000 towards making farms safer.

“Safety features for slurry tanks, rewiring of buildings, installation of calving gates, new aeration systems, installation of mobile sheep weighing facilities or mobile sheep rollover crates are just some of the measures that will qualify for funding.

“I would encourage all farmers to consider investing in farm safety now to make their farms safer for themselves, their families and their staff. As the Scheme is being introduced under the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme, very tight timelines are in place to access these grants. Applications must be made by Friday 9th January and all work must be completed by Monday 31st August 2015.

“This is a welcome introduction at a time when many farmers are aware of the dangers on their farms. Our record for farm safety this year is not good. One life lost is a tragedy, but 22 is simply devastating. I hope that this grant scheme will go a long way towards improving farm safety and will hopefully save lives.”