Database to provide relief workers for sick farmers

A regional labour database to support farmers and their families during the virus pandemic has been set up.
Database to provide relief workers for sick farmers

A regional labour database to support farmers and their families during the virus pandemic has been set up.

Where a farmer or worker becomes ill, the farm family will be linked with a relief worker.

The initiative, by Teagasc, is in collaboration with the Farm Relief Services (FRS) and with the support of the Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association.

Farmers who become ill may require hospitalisation and isolation and will not be able to carry out routine farm operations.

Teagasc director, Professor Gerry Boyle, urged farmers, rural dwellers, and students with capacity and skills to contact the advisory services and register on a locally held database.

With their consent, their details would be shared with farm families, via the FRS, in the event of a farmer becoming ill with Covid 19.

These workers could help out with tasks such as milking, calf-rearing, grassland management, silage, meal-feeding, and general farm duties.

FRS chief executive, Peter Byrne, said that in this time of uncertainty, every effort must be made to prepare for the impact a spread of the virus may have on individual farmers.

The joint initiative will help identify suitable people that FRS can call upon, if required.

He said location can be an issue in matching farmers who require additional labour with available operators. Increasing the database of suitably trained and experienced people should help in such situations.

IFA deputy president, Brian Rushe, said the initiative is important to keep farms going through what is a difficult time.

“In the event of a farmer having to self-isolate, anybody taking over has to have the full picture of how the farm works and what has to be done to complete day-to-day tasks,” he said.

ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, said setting up a labour register is a pragmatic and prudent thing to do and might allay fears and anxiety amongst farmers.

Anything that provided stability and reassurance was to be wholeheartedly welcomed.

“Some farmers will get sick and we need to put plans in place to replace labour on farms,” he said.

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