NIAPA Raises Fears over New EU Rules

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Byline: DAVID MCCOY

NORTHERN Ireland Agricultural Producers' Association Fermanagh chairman, Pat McGrade, has expressed concern at the possible impact on farm businesses of cross-compliance and the full implementation of the Nitrates Directive.

He said that much had been alluded to in this respect "but the simple fact is that until the period of consultation has ended no farm business will be fully aware of how it may be affected.''

It was a fact, however, that the little knowledge which had been imparted had caused farmers to contact local representatives and NIAPA. "While there is obvious concern at the potential impact on the more intensive sectors, dairying, pigs and poultry regarding proposed Nitrogen levels per hectare, businesses must examine their own situation,'' he said.

"For some time, NIAPA has been working with individuals and groups assessing the slurry storage capacity on farms with a view to a closed period for slurry spreading. In addition land area and stocking density is considered. This work has been ongoing on a random basis using a simple questionnaire and DARD Code of Practice for preventing pollution of water, which all farmers have,'' he said.

"While it may be necessary to modify standards in light of changing legislation, NIAPA has been building up a baseline of how farm businesses may have to adapt to change, if at all. While not wishing to pre-empt the results of any consultation exercise it is obvious that many farms may have to invest in additional storage capacity or perhaps consider reducing stock.''

Mr McGrade said that, for many, there were implications of how to fund capital expenditure particularly in light of diminishing returns over the past eight years. …