Speaking following the announcement of a public consultation on the Nitrates Action Programme, the Chairman of the Tipperary ICMSA, Mr. Seamus Troy, stated that there are a number of key issues that must be addressed in the upcoming review, he particularly identified problems associated with ‘calendar farming’ and Phosphorus allowances.
Mr. Troy stated that specific closed periods have been causing considerable difficulty for farmers since the introduction of the Nitrates Regulations and he identified the issue as one which must be addressed in the current review. He noted that slurry is a valuable resource and it is essential that farmers are allowed to use and manage it based on best environmental and agronomic conditions. The Tipperary ICMSA Chairman said that the use of calendar dates which permits or prohibits the application of slurry to land does not take account of the extreme variations in Irish weather and land spreading conditions that exist from year to year. He said that the difficulties associated with the restrictions on slurry spreading during the closed period are compounded by poor weather conditions and this was never more evident than in 2012.
In relation to Phosphorus allowances, Mr. Troy observed that the current Regulations relating to phosphorous are unnecessarily complicated and are furthermore leading to anomalies and structural P deficits. ICMSA believe that the current review must address the structural P deficits that are arising on Index 1 and 2 soils as a result of current restrictions and therefore prevent any undesirable long-term decline in soil fertility. For example, a recent review of soil samples from farmers analysed by Teasasc shows that while the number of soils at index 1 and 2 have increased from 40 percent in 2008 to 59 percent currently the percentage of soils at the optimum index 3 decreased from 30 percent to 18 percent.
In addition, the Thurles farmer stated that ICMSA believe a specific allowance should be made for those individual farmers who now find themselves in a situation whereby P application will be severely restricted in 2013/2014 as a result of supplementary concentrate fed in 2012 and to-date in 2013. ICMSA believes it is essential that soil fertility is maintained at the optimum levels to ensure optimum growth capacity and is extremely concerned that any further restriction to fertiliser usage will have a negative impact on such growth and productivity. He said that ICMSA believes that this issue must be addressed in the context of the Nitrates Review but that it must also be more immediately addressed in terms of fertiliser usage in 2013/2014.
“ICMSA will be addressing these and other issues in our submission to the Department and we want to clearly highlight the urgent need for the Minister to address P application restrictions as a result of increased and extended concentrate feed due to extreme and unprecedented weather conditions in 2012”, he said.
Meanwhile, the ICMSA is calling for movement on dairy prices.
As dairy prices surge again ICMSA says IDB and processor inaction is “compounding an unprecedented financial crisis on family farms”
Commenting on yet another surge in the prices being reached at the latest Global Dairy Trade Auction, Pat McCormack, ICMSA Deputy President and Chairman of the Dairy Committee, said that the relative inaction of both the IDB and individual processors and Co-ops in the face of this hugely strengthened market is now compounding an unprecedented financial crisis on many family farms. Mr McCormack said farmers could see plainly for themselves that demand for dairy products had now reached a momentum that saw a 25% jump in international prices in less than three weeks while all they heard from the IDB and their own processors or Co-ops was either a ‘deafening silence’ or a grudging and late price rise that in no way reflected the obvious buoyancy in markets..
“The refusal of the IDB and processors to accept the fact that farmers can see with their own eyes the extent and duration of this strong price surge is now frankly unbelievable. We can estimate very closely what they - the IDB and processors - should be receiving and yet they still persist in this inexplicable tactic of dragging their feet on the price being returned to the dairy farmers of Ireland. And they do this at a time when they must know that a proper milk price return was never more badly needed. This is outrageously unjust and farmers will not be fobbed off any longer. ICMSA expects every board in the country to deliver on a minimum 35 cents per litre milk price in the next round”, stated Mr McCormack.