As Tuesday’s ban on slurry spreading approaches, Ulster Unionist agriculture spokesperson Robin Swann MLA has said that serious consideration must now be given to scrapping the closed period entirely.
Robin Swann said: “Even though it has been an appalling October, with ground completely waterlogged, once again farmers are in a race against the clock to get tanks emptied. It makes no sense at all and it’s the clearest example we have of why farming by dates simply doesn’t work.
“For all we know a week at the end of October or November could bring dry and mild conditions.
“Equally, in January, I remember talking to several farmers who were exasperated that they couldn’t take advantage of the winter’s unseasonably dry and mild conditions.
“The slurry ban has a noble intention of trying to protect waterways from nutrient pollution, but by enforcing a rigid timetable, in reality it often forces farmers to spread slurry when conditions are far from ideal. The ban is totally ineffectual.
“It is now time for DAERA to look seriously at lifting the slurry ban.”
Farmers For Action say they are receiving phone calls from farmers with problems meeting next Tuesday’s slurry spreading ban, due to wet weather and poor ground conditions.
Samuel Morrison, FFA Steer Committee, said: “Albeit the majority of farmers are winning towards the deadline, those caught up with silage to cut first, wetter land or in an area having received excessive rain in recent days and weeks and currently a poor forecast for the next few days, it is a real practical and a financial hardship for them to be facing into winter, short of storage and perhaps closed with TB.”
As a result, Farmers For Action have urgently requested a meeting with NIEA Permanent Secretary David Small to discuss the issue and seek the extension many farmers desperately need.