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Minister Coughlan sets out position on soiled water and the importance of availing of the Farm Waste Management Scheme

Following discussions in recent days involving officials of her Department, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Teagasc, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today confirmed that there was no ambiguity about the definitions in the Nitrates Regulations (S.I. No. 378 of 2006) for slurry and soiled water as interpreted by her Department. This position is accepted by the senior Teagasc officials who met with her Department in recent days.

The Minister said that it would be helpful to clarify certain matters concerning slurry and soiled water management operations on dairy farms, in particular. All farmers are obliged to observe the requirements of the Nitrates Regulations including those for minimum slurry storage capacity. Where livestock excreta and soiled water are mixed in a collecting yard tank, this material cannot be spread during the closed period. If a farmer with a typical Spring calving dairy herd meets the slurry storage requirements set down for the relevant zone in the Regulations this should be adequate to cater for the material in the collecting yard tank during the closed period and no additional storage capacity will be required by the Department.

Minister Coughlan reminded farmers of the opportunity to avail of the hugely generous grants of 60% to 75% currently available under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. It is up to each applicant, the Minister said to ensure that their investment proposals will enable them to comply with the requirements of the Nitrates Regulations. Where necessary, grant applications with the Department by 31 December, 2006 can be amended up to 30 June, 2007. The Minister pointed out that the Farm Waste Management Scheme remains open to applications until 31 December 2006, so their still remains an opportunity for any farmer to submit a grant application.

The Minister emphasised the critical importance of the proper management of slurry and soiled water both in the interests of protecting the environment and maximising nutrient value for the farmer. Minister Coughlan confirmed that she has asked Teagasc to put in place in the early months of 2007 a comprehensive education and training programme to support farmers in the management of their slurry and soiled water.

15 December, 2006

Date Released: 15 December 2006