“We are not looking for an extension of the slurry spreading deadline,” Cooney told the Irish Farmers Journal. “We are looking for concessions under animal welfare grounds for farmers who spread within the closed period.”

The IFA has contacted Minister Simon Coveney’s department, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, as well as Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to lobby for farmers on this issue.

“We have also sought meetings with Minister for Communications and Natural Resources Denis Naughten,” Cooney said.

We would like flexibility on the animal welfare issue

He added that Coveney’s department is “understandably concerned about our nitrates directive”, which prohibits slurry spreading on farms from 15 October to mid-January, “but we also don’t want to do anything that would endanger our water quality”.

“However, we would like flexibility on the animal welfare issue. If animals cannot be housed and fed this winter, they will do even more damage to the land by staying out and poaching it.”

Healy echoes call for concessions

IFA President Joe Healy repeated this call during a recent meeting with Minister Creed, calling for maximum slurry spreading flexibility, which recognises the difficult farming conditions that famers currently face.

Healy added: “Minister Creed’s understanding of the situation faced by so many farmers is welcomed, however action is now required to ensure farmers are not penalised.”

Wettest September in 10 years

Farmers in the west are hanging their hopes on getting an extension to the slurry spreading deadline. Parts of the country have seen the wettest September in 10 years, meaning land became waterlogged and many farmers could not spread slurry during this month.

Although the Department of Agriculture has no present plans to extend the deadline, it is different news for farmers in the Northern Ireland.

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen said this week that following concerns raised over recent wet weather, her Department will consider on a case-by-case basis situations where - in exceptional circumstances – a farmer has spread slurry beyond the closed period.

Read more

Watch: wet weather hampering slurry spreading progress in the west