Extension disappointment: ‘Many farmers need to get slurry out’

It is disappointing that calls to date to extend the deadline for slurry spreading have – so far – been denied, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

This decision is “further evidence” that this Government and its ministers are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people, the Roscommon-Galway representative claimed.

Speaking on the matter, he said: “The Department of Agriculture is passing the book on this to those in the Department of Housing.

But both departments must recognise the seriousness of the situation. Many farmers, particularly in the west of Ireland, need to get slurry out or they won’t be able to make it through the closed period.

The independent TD stressed that the rain has been consistent since August, adding that the past two months have had double the amount of rainfall in some Met Éireann stations compared to 2018.

He said: “If the ministers ever bothered to look up the rainfall accumulation statistics for the west of Ireland, they would know that farmers couldn’t spread slurry here in the past two months.

“The slurry would have ended up in rivers and streams; and that is not what they want to happen.

There are indications that drier spells are expected next week, which may give farmers an opportunity to get enough slurry out to tide them over until the middle of January.

“Surely, an extension could be looked at in that regard,” Fitzmaurice said.

Helpline

During an exchange in the Dail this afternoon, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle indicated that there is a helpline for farmers to call in order to have their current situation considered for an extension.

Continuing, Fitzmaurice said: “This will turn into a welfare issue on some farms in the coming weeks.

“Farmers who contact this helpline must be aided in their efforts to get out enough slurry to tide them over until the closed period ends.

Minister Doyle mentioned that this is a recurring theme at this time of year. And he is right. It is just further proof that calendar farming doesn’t work.

“It is possible that some areas could experience a relatively dry and cold November, which would provide much better conditions for spreading slurry than the past two months have.

“However, the powers that be would prefer you get it out before a certain date – rather than use common sense.”

Deputy Fitzmaurice noted that farmers know it is best to spread slurry in spring, adding that most do – but said that most farms also need to spread slurry later in the year.

“Some farms may have housed cattle early; some farmers may have more cattle than they expected to due to the beef protests; but these farmers need to be looked after by the department,” deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.

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