‘Ministers must cop on and extend slurry spreading period’ – TD

Government ministers are again being called on to extend the open period for slurry spreading, which closes tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15, as things stand.

Michael Fitzmaurice, an independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, said that “common sense must prevail on this matter”.

He called on Minister Michael Creed (for Agriculture, Food and the Marine) and Minister Eoghan Murphy (for Housing, Planning and Local Government), who have dual responsibility for the slurry spreading restrictions, to grant the extension, stressing that: “Irish farmers have had to put up with consistent rainfall since early August.

As it stands, Met Éireann has a ‘Status Yellow’ rainfall warning in place for Connacht, Munster, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Wexford, Offaly and Westmeath. This warning will remain in place for the entire day.

“We are being warned about the risk of localised flooding. How can farmers possibly spread slurry in conditions like this?” Fitzmaurice asked.

He continued: “Do Ministers Creed and Murphy want to see slurry flowing into rivers? All because of a date that they had the power to extend, but didn’t.”

The TD said “these ministers need to cop on” and called on them to grant an extension to the open period until the end of this month.

Farmers do not want to spread slurry in poor conditions; that is just common sense. But they are being backed into a corner. Farmers, particularly in the west of Ireland, have spread little or no slurry in the past two months.

“They are now being forced to house cattle early as field conditions deteriorate. Opportunities to spread slurry have been limited in recent weeks due to weather and ground conditions,” Fitzmaurice argued.

He pointed out: “If you look at Met Éireann, taking its Athenry station for example, total rainfall for August and September of this year was double what it was in 2018.”

Fitzmaurice also stressed that a lack of slurry being spread may become an animal welfare issue as tanks reach capacity.

He concluded: “Both Minister Creed and Minister Murphy have an important decision to make; and they better not delay.”