Minister Heydon said about farm safety in Budget 2023, “I have strengthened the Department’s research fund to €20m ahead of a significant call for new projects next year. This will ensure a steady pipeline of climate solutions for the sector in the coming years, giving us time to implement the science and technology that is available to us.”
Research and Innovation are identified as a key pillar in Food Vision 2030. Delivering solutions through research will be a central part in ensuring a competitive, sustainable and strong industry. Minister Heydon pointed to the important role Department funded research has played to date.
“As an example of this, in 2016, we funded the RumenPredict project. Teagasc and other collaborators were able to identify traits in beef cattle that allow for the selection of low methane emitting cattle without impacting animal productivity and therefore farm profitability. We are now in a position to incorporate this metric into our national breeding strategies. Building on that, in our 2019 Call we funded METH-ABATE which is right now testing novel feed additives and validating their ability to reduce methane emissions from our pasture-based system.”
“This demonstrates the research pipeline in action and accelerating our investment in research will help us reach sectoral emission targets. The projects we fund next year will deliver further solutions in the second half of this decade.”
The Department’s dedicated farm safety budget will also be increased to €2.5m next year.
Stressing the importance of the fund, Minister Heydon said, “unfortunately, 10 people have lost their lives in fatal farm incidents this year. That is 10 too many – 10 farms, families, and communities left devastated. We know farm safety is inextricably linked to farmer health and wellbeing. That is why I plan to extend the On Feirm Ground initiative from farms advisors to other professionals working with farmers next year.”
“I also want to prioritise getting more physical safety infrastructure onto farms. Next year there will be a €90m budget for TAMS. I have sought a 60% grant rate for farm safety investments which will be subject to EU approval. Recent figures from Teagasc shows there are over 4,500 non-fatal incidents on farms every year. Over half these incidents involve livestock and I want to make it more feasible for farmers to invest in better animal handling units and calving pens.”
To assist farmers in making best use of the higher grant rate, work will be undertaken to create a resource for farmers on best design practice for animal handling units and calving pens. There will also be additional funding through the European Innovation Partnership Scheme (EIPs) to support locally led farm safety projects.