Minister praises work of NI Agri-Rural Health Forum

Date published: 15 May 2024

DAERA Minister Andrew Muir today commended what he described as the trailblazing work of the Northern Ireland Agri-Rural Health Forum to help promote better health and well-being amongst those living and working in the agri-rural industry.

Dr Rebecca Orr, Chair of the Northern Ireland Agri Rural Health Forum, Health Minister Robin Swann, Simon Best, Ambassador for the British Heart Foundation NI, DAERA Minister Andrew Muir and Ferghal McKinney, British Heart Foundation
Pictured with Dr Rebecca Orr, Chair of the Northern Ireland Agri Rural Health Forum, Health Minister Robin Swann, Simon Best, Ambassador for the British Heart Foundation NI, DAERA Minister Andrew Muir and Ferghal McKinney, British Heart Foundation.

Speaking at the Forum’s Annual Celebration Event at the Balmoral Show, the Minister said: “There is no doubt these are challenging times for the farming sector with rising costs, EU Exit, the weather uncertainty, animal disease, working long hours all impacting on the health and wellbeing of our farmers and their families.

“Funding from my Department  has helped the Forum in bringing together key decision makers in agriculture, public, voluntary, government and commercial organisations including Rural Support, the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster and the Farm Families Health Checks Team to play a crucial role in addressing a range of farming, rural, and health and wellbeing issues.

“Their work, along with the work the organisations in the Forum are undertaking individually and collectively, I believe, will go a long way in ensuring we have a healthy and resilient farming sector across Northern Ireland.”         

The Forum’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of the agricultural community in Northern Ireland by developing practical and innovative solutions to address emerging issues.

 Initiatives include the provision of free blood pressure checks to farmers and farm families. Through the Farm Families Health Checks programme, a team of experienced nurses, as part of their work at marts and community venues, have been able to offer a blood pressure check to those farmers who did not have time to undertake a full health check.

Minister Muir continued by saying:- I am very pleased to hear about the Forum’s initiative to collaborate with the Farm Families Health Check team to provide free blood pressure checks to farmers, farm families and rural dwellers. This is real evidence of the invaluable partnership working that the Forum undertake is continuing at pace.

The Minister added “The launch of the new “Check it Protect it” project is another example of the Forum delivering in partnership. Like the blood pressure checks, the NI Agri-Rural Forum partners are working in collaboration, in this case with Action Cancer, to encourage farmers and rural dwellers to get screened for cancer and to highlight important measures of prevention.

The Minister concluded “This is all very important work and why I wanted to attend this event today so that I can show my support and that of my Department. I encourage the Forum to continue to liaise closely with my Department and the Department of Health on the key issues that collectively we can strive to address.”

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