NI farmers require certainty on slurry – MEP

Muddy field
Muddy field

Ulster Unionist Party MEP Jim Nicholson has said that farmers require certainty in relation to the slurry ban which came into effect on October 15.

The ‘reasonable excuse’ clause is in existence which does allow farmers to spread slurry after the statutory date but this is under strict circumstances.

However, Mr Nicholson believes this does not solve the ongoing problems.

Jim Nicholson MEP said: “This debate is unfortunately rehearsed nearly every year, farmers are faced with a statutory deadline to spread their slurry, which does not take into account the very changeable weather farmers face in Northern Ireland.

“Due to poor weather, livestock are being kept indoors for longer, and tanks are filling up. Farmers are in a catch-22, livestock are inside for longer, thus filling their tanks up, and due to the wet weather they cannot spread the slurry on their land.

“I do recognise that the Reasonable Excuse Clause does exist but this operates under stringent rules. There is also an apprehension amongst farmers to invoke the clause in case of any negative ramifications they may face if they do not meet the guidelines. Farmers require a certainty when it comes to the spreading of slurry, especially when working within the limitations of the calendar.

“Having spoken to the DAERA Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery on two occasions before, my primary concern is to get these pressures alleviated. As such, I have written to the DAERA Permanent Secretary again to ask him to provide certainty on this. I have also asked him to take into account this year’s experiences of farmers, which have been well documented, in order to try and deal with potential problems which may arise in years to come.

“This demonstrates once again, that there needs to be a Minister in place to advocate for farmers in Northern Ireland. I am acutely aware of the huge problems farmers are facing, and there needs to be direction and clarity provided for them.”