The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has called for an extension to the end of March spreading deadline under the national liming programme, as ground conditions remain poor in most areas.

The association’s deputy president Eamon Carroll has warned that enforcing the 31 March deadline could lead to land being damaged by machinery, as conditions have failed to improve since autumn.

Carroll also stated the deadline is approaching, as farmers are in the busy spring period and will be focused on getting livestock to grass once land begins to dry.


Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue did previously grant flexibility to the programme’s spreading deadline when he announced in October that any lime applied for and bought before the end of that month would remain eligible for payment if spread before March 2024.

The announcement had come as the previous deadline, set for 31 October, loomed amid challenging weather and field conditions.

“Ground conditions remain extremely difficult on both dry and wet land and, specifically, there is no prospect for farmers in wet areas being able to meet the 31 March deadline without doing severe damage to land,” Carroll said.

“The jobs are just piling up and the reality is that when land does dry, farmers will be prioritising getting animals to grass given the scarcity of fodder, then there’s spreading slurry and fertiliser to get grass growing.

“We can safely anticipate that liming contractors will be inundated with calls to get the lime spread before the deadline while also trying to do other jobs for farmers.”

Spreading conditions

The ICMSA deputy president went on to say that a 30 June deadline would give farmers and contractors a “badly needed break, while also ensuring that the lime is spread in appropriate conditions”.

“It’s logical, it’s doable and sensible and would remove one element of pressure from farmers at an extremely difficult time.

“The Minister has the authority to change this deadline and he should do so immediately in recognition of the challenges facing farmers,” Carroll’s statement finished.