Costs on farmers for low-emission slurry equipment: ‘Action required’

The extra cost burden on farmers for low-emission slurry spreading equipment highlights the need for Government action, according to the environment chairperson in the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Thomas Cooney said that the requirement, announced today, Wednesday, July 24 – that all farmers with a stocking rate higher than 170kg of organic nitrogen (N) per hectare must switch to low-emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment from next year – was an additional cost that required action on the Government’s part.

“Minister Creed can take two actions today. Firstly, the environmental savings from the current use of LESS equipment must be recognised and credited to the sector,” argued Cooney.

Secondly, in the IFA’s Budget 2020 submission, launched today, the association has called for farm equipment such as a trailing shoe, which contributes to reduced environmental impact, to qualify for accelerated capital allowance relief.

“The banning of the splash-plate for farmers in derogation now makes the delivery of this proposal more urgent,” according to Cooney.

He went on to highlight that “proposals to introduce disproportionately costly measures on lower stocked farms have been successfully resisted”.

However, Cooney claimed that the Nitrates Derogation review “has also been a missed opportunity” to back calls for a comprehensive ‘Sustainability Development Programme’.

He argued that such a programme is needed to deliver on the Teagasc Climate Roadmap, as well as to “drive on-farm renewables and increase farm-level efficiency and profitability”.

Among the several new recommendations made in the department’s nitrates review, it will become mandatory to spread slurry remaining on a derogation farm after April 15, 2020, with low-emission equipment.

After that, all slurry on a derogation holding from January 12, 2021, must be spread with this type of equipment.

These changes apply to all farms with a whole-farm stocking rate in excess of 170kg livestock manure N/ha.