The terms and conditions laid down by the Department of Agriculture for farmers who might have sought an extension to the latest date for spreading slurry has meant that they are reluctant to contact the Deparment because they do not want to be prioritised in terms of future inspections. Now slurry will be spread on land that is totally unsuitale.
Over the past few days we have seen the incessant rain that has fallen and is affecting all areas. Roads are flooded, never mind agricultural land. I am constantly getting calls all day and night about this extension and one message is coming through loud and clear and that is that farmers are afraid to ring the Department because of the stipulation that farmers who were granted an extension would be prioritised for inspections.
I witnessed this week a farmer who was anxious to spread slurry and where his tractor and tanker got stuck- and a digger had to be called in. This is the reality of what is happening on the ground. It is now clear that whether the Department likes it or not, slurry will be spread in the coming weeks on land that is totally unsuitable. Farmers will not ask for an extension, and if this goes wrong only the Department themselves are to blame.
Farmers have told me over the last couple of days that they are under incredible mental stress as a result of this situation. Minister Creed and his Department need to have a rethink on this within the next 24 hours and issue a statement to rectify this situation.
We will probably read in a few weeks time that not many farmers applied for this extension, but the reason is because of the terms and conditions laid down by the Deparment in the first place. It is an incredible situation that our own Government is treating farmers this way and putting the environment at risk in this reckless fashion.