Slurry red tape warning from UFU

UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU annual meeting at Greenmount. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Ulster Farmers’ Union is reminding farmers that by the end of January they must submit forms to NIEA showing the movement of organic manures off their farm.

UFU Environment Chairman, Wilbert Mayne, underlined that the rules have changed.

“Under the previous Nitrates Action Programme organic manure exports had to be recorded and made available during an inspection. But now these records must be submitted to NIEA by 31 January for the previous calendar year. That means records for 2016 must be submitted by the end of this month,” he said. If the records are not submitted to NIEA the slurry export will not be included when calculating a farm’s nitrogen loading.

“Farmers could then find themselves in breach of the rules – and they could also face a higher risk of inspection,” said Mr Mayne.

“Many farmers have recognised that importing slurry or chicken litter or manure is a useful source of nutrients on farm and can displace artificial fertilisers. It is important that these farmers supply their farm business numbers to the exporters of organic manures to ensure all are compliant with the Nitrates Action Programme Rules.”

Records sent to NIEA must cover the date moved, type of livestock manure, quantity (tonnes or cubic metres) and the transporter’s name and address. The importers name and farm Business ID is now also a requirement. A template is available on the DAERA website. Exports of livestock manure (including poultry litter and slurry) to the Republic of Ireland are regulated by animal by-product legislation. This involves applying for authorisation to export.

“The UFU fought against this requirement to submit records being imposed. We accept that the regulations are complex and onerous, but farmers have a legal obligation to comply, regardless of whether they are claiming area-based payments. Failure to do so could result in penalties,” said Mr Mayne.

The UFU says farmers sending their export forms by post should use recorded delivery as proof they have been sent to NIEA. The UFU can help members with the calculations, if required.