Ruling out slurry spreading deadline extension ‘reckless in the extreme’

The reported decision by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to rule out an extension to the deadline for spreading slurry has been described as reckless in the extreme by Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Commenting on the decision, he said: “[It is] a further indication that there are many in government who simply do not understand rural Ireland, the farming community and how to deal with the problems they are facing.”

The elected representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency said that the reality now is that slurry will be spread on wet land.

With the heavy rain witnessed recently – and more forecast in the days to come – there is a danger that slurry will escape into rivers and drains around the country, damaging the environment that we are constantly trying to protect, Fitzmaurice warned.

Obviously the people who made this decision know nothing about farming or rural Ireland or the problems that farmers have had with bad weather over the past month or six weeks.

“Even the most up-to-date technology – using the pipe system – for spreading will not work in the current conditions; cattle have been inside since August began and tanks are full. Now the department is expecting farmers to spread slurry on unsuitable land that will threaten water quality.

“Even if the weather cleared up today, the ground conditions would not be dried up in time for the deadline.

“The people who made this decision have not got a clue what is going on here and I am once again appealing to them to extend this deadline – not only in the interests of farmers, but in the interests of the environment as a whole,” he said.

Fitzmaurice called upon the various farming organisations to lobby as hard as they can to have this deadline extended.

Extension until the end of October

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Martin Kenny, has also called for the deadline to be extended until at least the end of October.

The mid-October closing date is just not sufficient time to allow farmers to get their slurry out, he said.

The weather forecast for the coming period is bad, and we don’t want to see the environmental damage that will occur if slurry is spread in wet conditions.

“Many farmers have been unable to get their second cut of silage completed, due to the rain we have been having over the past six to eight weeks.

“In those circumstances, spreading slurry is impossible and the minister will have to act to help resolve this situation,” Kenny concluded.