26th October, 2012
Thousands of farmers will be relieved to hear that the deadline for spreading slurry has been further extended by two weeks, however it only serves to highlight the futility of setting strict timelines for essential, weather-dependent farming activities, according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association.
Commenting on the announcement made by Minister Phil Hogan this morning, that farmers would, in certain circumstances, be able to spread slurry until November 16th without incurring penalties, ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said, “While I welcome the fact that more time has been granted to hard-pressed farmers to empty their slurry tanks, I will again reiterate ICSA’s firm stance that the closing date for this type of work must be done away with altogether. We are having better, drier weather now, at the end of October, than we had for the entire summer season. Year after year we see more evidence that setting arbitrary deadlines for weather-dependent work simply doesn’t make sense. I sincerely hope that 2012 is the year that this finally gets through to the authorities.”
Mr. Gilmartin has sounded a note of concern about the terms and conditions attached to the extension. “I am particularly concerned that the requirement to notify the Department of Agriculture prior to spreading during the extended period is overly bureaucratic and adds unnecessary complication to the process. Another condition that worries me is the requirement to only spread the “least amount required” to give farmers sufficient capacity in their slurry tanks to last until the end of the closed period, which is 1 January for Zones A and B, and 15 January for Zone C. I question how the Department can predict that there will be suitable spreading conditions in January. We may not be able to spread again until February or March next year if the weather is bad. A realistic approach must be taken on this and farmers must be allowed to spread as much slurry as they can to avoid animal welfare problems over the winter.”
The details of how farmers can notify the Department of their intention to spread slurry from 1 November can be found here.