Special Circumstances for spreading slurry not enough – Nicholson

Jim Nicholson MEP
Jim Nicholson MEP

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that farmers need to be aware of the special circumstances in which farmers can spread slurry past the statutory closed period.

The ‘reasonable excuse’ clause exists which allows farmers to spread slurry past the 15th October deadline. Unfortunately however, the imminent deadline still presents a massive burden for farmers trying to work through their backlog of work.

Mr Nicholson said: “Unfortunately we have not seen an extension to the deadline, and we are quickly approaching the closed period. Due to the severe inclement weather over the past number of months, farmers across Northern Ireland are still waiting for a dry spell of weather to get their crop in, and spread their slurry. Tanks are nearing their maximum capacity and it is crucial farmers are able to spread slurry.

“It is therefore imperative that farmers are aware that there are special circumstances in which they can spread their slurry. Under the ‘reasonable excuse’ clause farmers can spread their slurry, past the 15th October deadline.

“There are a number of conditions that farmers have to meet, including ‘keeping a record of weather/ground conditions’ and ‘ensuring slurry has been properly managed outside the closed period.’ Further information on these stipulations can be found on the Ulster Farmers Union website, which must be strictly adhered to.

“However, it is unfortunate that Farmers are being made to work within the confines of statutory dates especially when Northern Ireland faces very changeable weather conditions.

“I met with DAERA permanent secretary Noel Lavery in Brussels this week and put these points to him directly. While the reasonable excuse clause will provide limited alleviation to the pressures, there does need to be further discussion with DAERA to grant our farmers a greater degree of flexibility when it comes to the spreading of slurry.”