FOLLOWING the Government’s decision to close schools, colleges and universities, the farming industry is facing another new challenge in an already testing year writes Joanna Davis.

It has been well documented that farming continues to have the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.

However, in an industry where two children were among the 39 people killed on farms last year, the closure of schools means that there needs to be a clear focus on supporting those children and young people in rural areas who will be spending longer periods on their farm and being called upon to help if family, friends or neighbours are older, vulnerable or have contracted Coronavirus.

According to Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation: “Educational establishments do not just close and send students home without a good reason. And, with the increased threat of the spread of Coronavirus the Government realises that this is no joke… and so should we!”

Despite having to postpone their new virtual reality education programme until September, leading farm safety charity, the Farm Safety Foundation is continuing to deliver safety messages to children and young people and has written two new farm safety guides – one for agricultural students and one for parents. These guides have been sent to all rural primary schools, land-based colleges/universities and national Young Farmers Clubs to be shared with their pupils, students and members.

The Farm Safety Foundation, or Yellow Wellies as many know them, was set up by rural insurer NFU Mutual, to preserve and protect the physical and mental wellbeing of the next generation of farmers and to challenge and change their attitudes to risk-taking.

Since 2015, the charity has delivered its unique education programme to over 10,000 agricultural students and young farmers at 44 different land-based colleges and universities throughout the UK and through the Young Farmers Clubs network and, despite the challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 they are exploring new ways to deliver the safety message.

The Foundation will be using their social media channels – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter - to share farm safety reminders over the coming weeks.

Stephanie added: “The fact is, with the closure of schools, there will be more children spending time on farm for longer periods than ever before and we thought it would be a good idea to put together a simple, easy to read booklet to remind everyone of the risks they will face on the farm every day.

"We don’t know how long this situation will last and our wonderful NHS workers are already feeling the strain of dealing with the spread of COVID-19. We need to take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones and not risk any of us having a farm accident that will add to a workforce already under pressure.

"They are working hard to keep us safe so the least we can do is farm safe for them.”

For more information on the Farm Safety Foundation please visit

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