A further extension to the slurry spreading deadline has been called for by Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Dermot Kelleher as the weather provided no opportunity to responsibly spread slurry in the past few weeks.

Some of the ICSA's members are currently in an "extremely stressful situation" according to Kelleher, as they try to comply with best practice and, at the same time, urgently need to get tanks emptied as winter is almost upon us.

“On 21 September, the Minister announced a brief extension to 8 October, but, since then, frequent torrential rain has made slurry spreading impossible.

'Not sensible'

"Whatever about calendar dates, it is not sensible to spread slurry when ground is waterlogged and heavy rain is forecast.

"It will take a week of dry weather now to allow ground conditions to even begin to stabilise, so it is clear that 8 October is not a realistic extension," Kelleher explained.

It must be remembered, he added, that conditions for spreading slurry have been very poor for a lot of 2023.

"It has been especially difficult in March, April, early May and again in July, August and September. When weather was suitable, many farmers and contractors were snowed under trying to get hay and silage done.

"Consequently, we are looking at a problem that has been getting worse all year and it is now time for a realistic decision that alleviates pressure on farmers. We need to take the worry out of slurry," he concluded.