Farming is identified as being a hazardous occupation, resulting in disability and numerous fatalities each year. While occupational health and safety issues among farm households have been studied recently in Ireland, there has been no research directed at identifying the incidence and impact of disability within farm households.
The aim of the research outlined in this paper was to identify the cause, extent, and nature of disability among farm household members. The impact of disability on the farm business was examined also. Questions relating to disability were attached to the Teagasc National Farm Survey, and circulated to a representative sample of 119.5k households in 2001. The results revealed that 19.5% of farm households reported one or more persons with disability, with the farm operator (39.5%) reporting the highest incidence among household members. Physical disabilities accounted for 80.1% of all reported disability, with its principle source being health- related. Disability in affected households had a “major” or “some” impact on the farm business in 22.4% and 52.9% of cases respectively. Family farm income was €24/ha less on farms where the farm operator reported disability compared to non-disability farms. When the farm operator reported disability, participation in off-farm employment was reduced for the farm operator and spouse when compared to non-disability farms. The results generated raise awareness of issues among farm households reporting disability. Further research should be directed toward agricultural disability to facilitate agricultural and extension educators in designing prevention programmes that minimise the occurrence and impact of disability among farm households.