‘Reasonable excuse’ may assist with delay

Heavy rainfall in north Antrim has made field conditions difficult.
Heavy rainfall in north Antrim has made field conditions difficult.

With the wet weather continuing, farmers are under pressure to spread slurry before the deadline of October 15.

However, there is flexibility within the Nitrates Action programme which caters for exceptional circumstances when farmers cannot fully comply with the rules, through no fault of their own, which will help those farmers who are struggling currently.

A general extension to the closed period is not a realistic option for Northern Ireland. Farmers who are forced to spread when conditions are not suitable may be able to use the ‘reasonable excuse’ clause. This also allows farmers on a case by case basis to spread beyond 15 October if ‘reasonable excuse’ can be shown.

The ‘reasonable excuse’ clause should be used as a last resort. Keep records and take photographs of the conditions you are in should you be inspected after the closed period. You must provide records showing that you have taken all reasonable steps to manage the situation.

UFU Assistance

The UFU is encouraging any farmers who plan to spread during the closed period, to use the UFU template and to fill it out carefully. Any UFU member who needs help or would like to discuss anything further, please contact Aileen Lawson at the Ulster Farmers’ Union on 028 9037 0222 or their local UFU Technical Officer.