Cavan farmers under pressure to comply with the Nitrates Action Programme deadline are being urged to contact the Nitrates Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine about localised slurry spreading flexibility.
Chairman of the IFA's Environment & Rural Affairs Committee, Thomas Cooney, said farmers who cannot spread slurry ahead of the October 15 deadline because of the heavy rainfall in parts of the county may apply to avail of the flexibility.
However the deadline for application is Saturday October 14 and the Department have indicated that they intend to introduce a regime for farmers who need to manage manures over the winter where they will be prioritised for inspection by Local Authorities in the immediate future to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations.
Farmers wishing to avail of such flexibility will be advised to spread only that volume of slurry necessary to ensure adequate storage capacity for the remainder of the closed period. Other considerations are that spreading should occur as soon as good spreading conditions exist and that assessment of overall on-farm storage capacity may be part of that inspection process.
The Nitrates Section DAFM will contact the farmers to ascertain and record the date on which this additional spreading takes place, Local Authority inspection reports will be returned to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and shared with the Department of Agriculture and those farms needing to avail of this flexibility will become a priority category for inspections in future years also.
Both Departments stress the importance of farmers ensuring that safety is their number one priority as toxic gases are released when slurry is agitated and one breath at this time can cause instant death. All of those working with slurry should be aware of the dangers involved and make sure they work safely at all times.
Mr Cooney, has called on the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Local Government to review their plans to introduce an inspection regime for farmers who need to manage manures over the winter.
He said: “Farmers, particularly in the north-west, have had to endure very difficult farming conditions and continue to act responsibly by not spreading manures at this time. This must not now lead to increased inspections and penalties being imposed on farmers.”
The Chairman of the IFA's Environment & Rural Affairs Committee said that farmers must not be penalised for doing the right thing.
Affected farmers are advised to contact the Nitrates Section of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine at 053 9163444 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with details of the flooding / trafficability situation, their herd number and other relevant data.