11 SEPTEMBER 2018
At the ICSA 25th anniversary celebrations, held in Kilkenny on Friday (7 Sep), the association announced a new initiative to support farm families deeply affected by stress arising from the fodder crisis. The ICSA Fodder Crisis Family Support Fund aims to reach out to those farmers who cannot cope with all of the pressures and worries created by lack of fodder.
On the night, ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch explained that fund was designed to provide help to families who needed one on one meetings, and working out a plan for to help them get through the winter. “We are not talking about buying or subsidising fodder here; we are talking about helping people to deal with stress, mental pressure, depression and also how to work out a strategy to deal with the challenges of making up the fodder deficit.”
The ICSA dinner was preceded by two break-out meetings, one on fodder strategies facilitated by Martin Ryan of Gain nutrition and one on mental health. The mental health meeting, facilitated by Zurich Farm Insurance under the banner “Tackle Your Feelings” saw farmer of the year Pete Hynes outline the importance of strategies to achieve work / life balance. Also attended by Tackle Your Feelings ambassador, former Irish rugby legend John Hayes, the session emphasised how farmers need to put family and mental health first.
Eddie Punch explained that the two sessions brought together the objectives of the new ICSA initiative. “ICSA is putting a proportion of the membership fee towards having the resources to reach out and help those families who can’t cope. We will have meetings around the country over the coming months and will liaise with other agencies to find the farmers who are suffering the most. We would urge any farmer or their family who can’t cope to contact us and we will try our best to link them up with professional people who can find solutions.”
ICSA Kilkenny chairman Ger O’Brien added, “It was an enormous honour that the association chose Kilkenny to host this great event. At the same time we are acutely aware that we are navigating difficult times. In 2018 we have had the perfect storm of fodder shortage, labour shortage and money shortage. Farmers are hurting and the job of ICSA is to get out there and help them and speak up for them.”