Around 400,000 people are at risk of dangerous accidents on Irish farms, according to Teagasc, Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority.
Per the Irish Examiner, David Meredith, a senior officer from the state agency, recently expressed concerns that danger is now “normalised” on the 140,000 farms in Ireland. He added that accidents are expected to happen, and there is a culture of risk-taking.
His comments follow several studies last year highlighting how dangerous animal farming is.
Fatal accidents on dairy farms
Last year, the CEO of Ireland’s Healthy and Safety Authority (HSA), Martin O’Halloran, noted that the national body had found that farmers are eight times more likely to die at work. Dairy farmers were at the highest risk.
He said: “We’ve mapped it out and found that dairy farms are the most dangerous. Over 50 percent of fatal accidents take place on dairy farms. Though they account for 17 percent of all farms in Ireland.”
Meredith also noted that farmers with higher “stocking rates” (which is the number of animals grazing on the land) had more accidents.
He also noted that drystock farmers were more likely to be older, increasing the likelihood of an incident.
Fewer young people are going into farming, and now, the average age of a farmer is 59.
A dangerous food system
The animal-based food system is not just dangerous for farmers. Slaughterhouses are also risky places to work. In a harrowing account, one former quality control manager told the BBC in 2020: “I’m sure not all abattoirs are the same but mine was a brutal, dangerous place to work.”
“There were countless occasions when, despite following all of the procedures for stunning, slaughterers would get kicked by a massive, spasming cow as they hoisted it up to the machine for slaughter,” they added.
These reports highlight that raising and slaughtering animals for food isn’t just an animal rights and environmental issue. It’s impacting human beings and their safety too.
O’Halloran said last year: “Our approach is to bring a culture of change.”