Some farmers are renting commonage or other land far away from their holding to “dilute their stocking rate and increase their chemical fertiliser allowance,” senior inspector at the Department of Agriculture Jack Nolan has said.
Nolan was speaking at an Oireachtas agriculture meeting on nitrates last week and was asked by Senator Paul Daly about the 30km rule under the proposed Nitrates Action Programme.
It’s a proposal we’ve received a lot of feedback on, so it will have to be looked at carefully
“The principle here is that some farmers are renting commonage or land far away from the holding just to dilute their stocking rate and increase their chemical fertiliser allowance,” Nolan said.
“It’s a proposal we’ve received a lot of feedback on, so it will have to be looked at carefully to avoid causing extra bureaucracy.
“We don’t want to be impinging on a genuine farmer and we don’t want any proof of farming or anything like that,” he said.
When Daly put it to him that calendar farming was prohibitive, Nolan said that farming by calendar definitely annoys people because they are being told what to do.
They look at the legal minimum in the regulation and they say they’ll get by
“No cattle are in a shed yet. We’re in the middle of October. If I had 16 weeks storage, which I need in this part of the country [Dublin], I’d get up to the middle of February. So why are people spreading in the middle of January? It’s because they don’t have enough storage,” said Nolan.
“They look at the legal minimum in the regulation and they say they’ll get by.
“But they’re not getting by and that’s causing a lot of our water problems, that we don’t have enough slurry storage to get us out to the time of the year when we’ll get most value from it,” he said.
Nolan reiterated that the Department will not be grant-aiding slurry storage to farmers who do not have sufficient storage at the minute.
The Department has previously said that some 40% of dairy farms were found to have inadequate storage in cross-compliance inspections.