Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has been approached by farmers from across Northern Ireland this week who are very concerned that they will not get all their slurry spreading completed before 15th October deadline.
Mr Irwin said: “The fact is farmers have only another 10 days before the closed period commences meaning that this is adding significant pressure for farmers who have been dealing with very wet conditions in recent days.
“I know that out on the ground the heavy rainfall over the last few nights and the tail end of Storm Lorenzo has affected farmers getting their last cut of silage completed, leaving many in a real dilemma in terms of having a weather window and time to meet the looming deadline for slurry spreading. Ground conditions are also deteriorating quickly on many farms across Northern Ireland leaving the task more difficult.
“I have contacted the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency Mr Small to convey to him the real concerns of farmers who are in this dilemma. This has been an issue in previous years and farmers need clarity from NIEA as to how they deal with these circumstances.”
He added: “The weather has deteriorated at the worst possible time with the deadline looming and Thursday night’s heavy and prolonged rain has only made things ten times worse. Farmers are obviously aware of the issues of water logged ground and slurry spreading from an environmental aspect, and are very respectful of that. However as we all know, after the deadline expires, we could experience a longer spell of dry weather which could change ground conditions in a matter of days - yet the closed period is in place and doesn’t account for our usual weather changes.
“In reality this is further proof that restricting farmers to dates on a calendar when farming is so dependent on the weather, simply doesn’t work. These regulations require flexibility and that is sadly lacking in the current system and it is adding a great deal of stress to farmers at this time. I am awaiting direction back from NIEA and it is important that these concerns are fully taken on board,” he concluded.