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DUP comments on changes to Action Programme for Nitrates Directive

27 January 2006

Jim Allister has called on both DARD and the DOE not to introduce any further last minute additions to the proposed Nitrates Directive Action Programme for Northern Ireland.  The Member of the European Parliament made the comments as the row rages on in the Republic of Ireland regarding the action programme that is proposed to be introduced for farmers there. 

Jim Allister commented, “DARD has belatedly introduced to the proposed Nitrates Directive Action Programme for Northern Ireland a capping on the total amount of Nitrogen that can be put on per holding.  This has a danger of acting as a Nitrogen quota that may reduce through time.  The proposals will result in many farmers having to reduce the amount of artificial fertiliser they so and rely more on animal manures to meet the nutrient demands of their crops.  Although I welcome more efficient use of slurry as it will ultimately save the agricultural industry money and be beneficial for the environment, there are times of the year that it is not practical to spread slurry to meet the nutrient demands of a crop. 

The introduction of closed periods for the spreading of organic manures and the use of different techniques for the spreading of slurry both will increase the efficiency by which nitrogen is used on farm.  The introduction of Nitrogen limits could result in many farmers placing greater reliance on purchased feeds to feed their livestock but this could ultimately lead to problems regarding phosphate balances.  I would question the need for the introduction of any Nitrogen limits as they could have a further economic impact on many farms throughout Northern Ireland.

I welcome the meeting that took place this week between DARD and the industry and hope that the concerns raised are addressed prior to the action programme being finally submitted to Brussels.  In the Republic of Ireland we are starting to see the economic impact that the implementation of the Nitrates Directive will have on their industry.  It would be a useful exercise for our Government to look at the economic impact for the Northern Ireland economy prior to submitting any action programme

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Agriculture and Environment