Midland farmers may be able to spread slurry until November 16 under new measures announced by the Government today.
The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan following consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney announced a number of measures to assist farmers in light of the very difficult weather conditions that have persisted throughout and since the summer.
These conditions have led to a situation where animals had to be housed and farmers, who would otherwise have sufficient storage for the manures produced on-farm, now find that they have insufficient storage capacity for the closed period ahead.
In brief, the measures announced by the Minister mean that the closed period for the application of slurry will end earlier in 2013.
In addition they permit these farmers to spread such manures, subject to certain conditions, up to November 16. The Minister also announced an easing of the obligation to establish a 'green cover' in certain exceptional circumstances.
The purpose of the closed periods is to protect the environment, especially during the months of November and December when there is little or no nutrient uptake.
"Because of this I am not simply announcing a further extension into November but a series of measures that represent a careful, proportionate response to manage a genuinely difficult position on the ground," Minister Hogan said.
Welcoming the move, Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said: "Farmers will be allowed to spread the least amount of slurry necessary to ensure they will have enough capacity to tie them over the closed period. This spreading can take place up to Friday, November 16."
Commenting on the announcement, 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."