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Minister of State Martin Heydon TD launches Agri Aware’s new primary school programme ‘Safe Farm Futures’

February 8, 2024

Michael Geary

Minister of State with responsibility for Farm Safety at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Martin Heydon, launched Agri Aware’s new farm safety programme called ‘Safe Farm Futures’ on Tuesday, January 23rd.

The Safe Farm Futures programme will be available to primary schools across the country and aims to educate and raise awareness of the importance of keeping safe on farms.

This farm safety programme aims to deliver a rounded guide to farm safety, ensuring that the work we do on farms is safe by recognising and increasing awareness around the dangers on farms so that we can all farm sustainably and in a safe environment for all.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Agri Aware Chairman Shay Galvin said: “We are delighted to launch this farm safety initiative for primary schools to engage with.

“In 2023, 16 deaths occurred in the farming sector which is far too many and already in 2024 we have sadly had another fatality on a farm.

“Educating the next generation on farm safety from a young age is critically important. Farms are a wonderful place to make happy memories, whether it be helping your grandparent or parents on the farm.

“However, as we all know, there are risks and dangers to one’s health when working on a farm and to ensure the safety of the next generation, educating them on the risks associated with a working farm and ensuring they engage in safe practices is crucial.

“Therefore, we look forward to seeing teachers and students begin their farm safety journey with us in order to create a safer future for everyone involved in the agricultural industry and are excited at bringing further farm safety initiative to schools in the near future.”

The programme has separate learning plans for junior and senior primary school level students and comprise of three learning plan topics that teachers and their students will engage with – Countryside Care; Animals and You; and Moving Parts: Know Where to Start.

All three topics will be accompanied by a suite of resources including activity lesson plans, webinars and activity sheets.

Schools that complete the programme will be in with a chance of winning prizes of up to €2,000 which will be invested in the students wellbeing and learning.

Making the announcement about the Department’s funding of the initiative, Minister Heydon said:

“I am delighted to support the ‘Safe Farm Futures’ programme being undertaken by Agri Aware to improve awareness around farm safety among primary school students. Children in farming families are particularly at risk of being involved in a farm safety incident due to the proximity of the farmyard to the family home. Unfortunately, one in ten fatal incidents on Irish farms involves children with 21 fatal incidents involving children over the ten-year period 2013 – 2022. Many more children are injured each year on Irish farms.”

Minister Heydon added: “I would like to take this opportunity to encourage primary schools and teachers around the country to participate in this important farm safety programme which has been developed for primary school students. While there are hazards on farms, farms shouldn’t be dangerous places to live, work or visit. By participating in the ‘Safe Farm Futures’ programme, children can also play an important role in influencing and encouraging their parents and grandparents around safety on their farms.”

Schools can register for the new farm safety programme here.