Slurry and money
The Ulster Farmers’ Union is reminding farmers that the closed period for slurry spreading is looming and to be cautious when spreading slurry in order to protect their Single Farm Payment.
UFU Environment Committee Chairman James Brown stated: “With very challenging ground and grazing conditions across the province following another wet month and with the closed period looming, farmers must try and manage slurry spreading over the next number of weeks in the lead up to the 15th October.
The use of trailing shoe slurry tankers or umbilical systems may help farmers with the challenging field conditions that we are currently facing and avoid soiling grass.
“While we clearly recognize that spreading will be difficult unless conditions improve, it is important that farmers understand that spreading during the closed period is a breach of cross-compliance rules and as in 2011, only those farmers with a genuine ‘reasonable excuse’ which will be rigorously scrutinised and inspected by NIEA will be exempt from Single Farm Payment penalties.
As with last year, farmers in this situation will be expected to provide very detailed records outlining why they were forced to spread after the 15th October and must be able to show that all avenues were explored to avoid breaking the cross-compliance rules.
Farmers should also be aware that the first full closed period for farmyard manure will also be introduced this year from 31st October – 31st January.
“The Single Farm Payment is a vital part of farm incomes and the UFU would advise farmers to consider the rules set out in the Nitrates Action Programme carefully, to protect themselves from receiving any unnecessary penalties and the subsequent delay this can cause to their SFP being made.”
The union has highlighted that the need to be cautious is also important given the on-going review by the European Commission on compliance with the NI Nitrates Action Programme and water quality.
James Brown added: “European Commission Officials have clearly outlined that they have concerns with our current rules, particularly spreading in February and have stated that they will be monitoring spreading practices and water quality data for the next four years.
It is vital that local farmers act responsibly when spreading slurry to give the EC no excuse to strengthen the current rules.
Brussels will be keeping a close eye on compliance with the closed period this year and may even demand extra storage across all farms in the future if we are continually struggling to comply.
The industry cannot afford to have restrictions in February or additional storage requirements imposed and we must all act responsibly to avoid giving the European Commission any excuse to curtail our industry further.”
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