UFU slurry warning ahead of October deadline
THE Ulster Farmers Union has urged farmers to act with caution when spreading slurry ahead of October 15 deadline.
Farmers, in compliance with EU law, must be careful not to breach certain regulations in regards to the deadline, or they may be at risk of losing their Basic Payment from DAERA, UFU president Barclay Bell has warned.
Northern Ireland has experienced a prolong stretch of wet weather in recent months and it is causing major problems for farmers across the province.
“Silage hasn't been cut. Harvest has been delayed. Cattle have had to be housed much earlier than usual and many farmers have slurry to spread but have been unable to do so, all because of the wet weather," Mr Bell said.
"Farmers are reporting that slurry stores are nearing capacity and they are facing a dilemma. We have made DAERA and NIEA aware of the situation."
Over 60 per cent of the month's rainfall fell over a nine hour period in the north-west on August 22, and Mr Bell has urged farmers to be aware that they have the option of using the 'reasonable excuse' clause for spreading slurry. This covers exceptional circumstances when, through no fault of their own, they cannot fully comply with the rules.
“Given the current conditions, where weather and ground conditions are making compliance impossible, farmers may be forced to use this clause. But documentation may be required and this must be available,” said Mr Bell, adding that the UFU can assist members with this process.
“The UFU is well aware of the practical problems facing farmers, but it is vital not to give the Commission an excuse to impose more legislation. Being able to show we acted responsibility is our best defence. Brussels will be keeping a close eye on closed period compliance and could demand extra storage if farmers are continually struggling. The industry cannot afford to have more restrictions or additional storage requirements imposed,” Mr Bell added.