Our news correspondent Declan O’Brien has highlighted the major slow down in farm buildings works over the past number of months, with farmyard planners and builders noting the slowdown in farmers seeking for work to be completed for a variety of reasons.

We can’t underestimate the pressure on cash flows on farms at the moment, with the tough spring causing spiralling feed costs to hit farmers’ pockets hard.

Milk yields in dairy cows suffered as a result of a lack of grazing which has been a real double whammy to bank accounts, with expensive feed coming in lorries while lower volumes have been heading out. All in all, farmers have had a tough start to the year, you could hardly blame them for nailing the chequebook shut.

However, our springs do appear to be more challenging, with the result being a delayed turn out which is putting further pressure on slurry storage on farms.

Slurry storage

There is a very strong possibility that we have been underestimating the volume of slurry storage required for some time now, and farmers could be forced to increase storage by as much as 21% ahead of current regulations within the next three years.

At the same time, we have the fear that the nitrates derogation could go in it’s entirely, leading to culls on a large number of dairy herds, which has a lot of farmers saying ‘‘why would I build more storage just to be down in cows in a few years?’’

Animal welfare scheme

Considering all of the above, that’s a lot of uncertainty for Irish farmers.

If the increased grant rate for slurry stores for farms importing slurry can get the green light from Europe, then surely it could be argued that the farms creating the slurry could get a similar grant top-up.

A separate ceiling within TAMS for slurry storage that would not deflect from other spending in the animal welfare scheme is also needed in my opinion.

While we will await the result on our derogation with bated breath, the separate ceiling and a grant rate of 70% for slurry storage would go somewhere to increasing farmer confidence in investing in their farm.