Coveney says he's not proposing "any blanket variation" to slurry spreading season
Suggestions that some leeway may be granted to farmers on the rules governing the spreading of slurry have gained currency following comments in the Dáil by the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney.
Minister Coveney, whose department has responsibility for legislation governing the slurry spreading rules, urged farmers who had not gotten an opportunity to empty slatted sheds to contact the Department of Agriculture in circumstances where there was "a risk to animal welfare due to circumstances outside the farmer's control."
Minister Coveney said farmers should contact the Department of Agriculture with "details of the flooding situation, their herd number and other relevant data".
It is unclear what actions may be allowed by Minister Coveney's department and he stressed that he was not proposing "any blanket variation" in the Nitrates Action Plan, which sets down the closed period for slurry spreading.
The Irish Government will soon be seeking approval for the continued availability of the Nitrates Derogation to Irish farmers.
The Department of Housing Planning Community and Local Government will shortly commence negotiations with the European Commission on a new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) and an associated derogation.
This will be done in close conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said it will be important to demonstrate that the current arrangements are sustainable in Ireland.
Creed said that agreeing a new NAP before the end of 2017, and maintaining the derogation (which is currently availed of by almost. 7,000 farmers), is an important aspect of sustaining balanced growth in the rural economy.