Tuesday, October 20, 2020

On Feirm Ground Programme Launch ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne


By Elizabeth Lee

HUNDREDS of agricultural advisers will be trained to help farmers with their health and wellbeing, thanks to a collaboration between IT Carlow and several government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Health, the HSE and Teagasc.

They are researching a training programme for agricultural advisers to engage farmers on their health and wellbeing.

On Feírm Ground is a project of Engage: The National Men’s Health Training Initiative and will train 800 agricultural advisers over the next 12 months.

An interim report was made available by the research partners at the National Centre for Men’s Health at IT Carlow, led by its director Dr Noel Richardson.

It is well established that, compared with other occupational groups, farmers in Ireland experience a disproportionate burden of health problems which undermine the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of farming. The report highlights a multitude of challenges concerning experiences with farming and the broader occupation of farming. They include isolation and the decline of rural communities; issues relating to succession and inheritance; increasing pressures to scale up and changing farming roles; increasing paperwork demands; stresses associated with seasonal workloads; financial stress and the pressures associated with being self-employed.

The research findings recommend that the On Feírm Ground training programme adopts a strengths-based approach to farmers’ health, focuses on the issue of gender and the social determinants of farmers’ health and sets out clear roles, responsibilities and boundaries for advisers in their health role. 

“This unique and innovative partnership has enormous potential to make a real difference to farmers’ lives. The research findings have been incorporated into the training programme and we are really looking forward to the next stage of the initiative,” said Dr Richardson.

The research and resource development stage of On Feírm Ground has been ongoing for the past 12 months and is now ready for implementation, with the first training scheduled for agricultural advisers next month.

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