Manure Manager

News
Government slaps £600 million nitrates bill onto dairy industry


July 23, 2008
By Manure Manager

July 23, 2008, U.K. –  New government rules on slurry storage and
closed periods for muck spreading will cost the dairy industry £600
million over the next ten years, according to research carried out by
Dairy UK.

July 23, 2008, U.K. – New government rules on slurry storage and
closed periods for muck spreading will cost the dairy industry £600
million over the next ten years, according to research carried out by
Dairy UK.

The Government’s controversial Nitrates
Vulnerable Zones Action Program, announced this week, it will prohibit
dairy farmers from spreading organic manure for three to four months of
the year and will oblige them to have slurry storage capacity
equivalent to five months output.

The plan will also extend Nitrate Vulnerable Zones from 55 per cent to 70 per cent of England.

Dairy UK director general, Jim Begg said the dairy sector could ill-afford the extra cost.

“Production
costs have risen sharply with the cost of fuel, energy, fertilizer, and
animal feed all much higher than they were a year ago. The government
must understand the serious cost constraints producers are under,” he
said.

Environment Minister, Phil Woolas, responded that help was
available to farmers in the form of tax allowances on capital costs but
critics have questioned the Government’s decision not to offer grants.

Greg
Bliss, chairman of the Tenant Farmers Association said that it was
indefensible to ask English dairy farmers to fork out for the full cost
of new slurry stores – thought to average £50,000 – when their
neighbours would receive grants of up to 60 per cent of the cost.

“Other
parts of the UK, not least Northern Ireland and Scotland, have offered
grant assistance to their livestock producers. English farmers have a
legitimate reason for feeling that they have been discriminated
against,” he said.

Despite industry opposition, Mr Woolas
maintained that the new measures were essential to help the UK meet
European obligations to cut nitrate pollution in water.

But Mike
Payne, a nitrates consultant to the NFU, questioned whether the
Government’s action plan would significantly cut pollutants.

He
said: “The measures in their entirety will do relatively little to
tackle a reduction in nitrates. Storage manure will cost the industry
around £250-300m but will decrease nitrate levels by just 0.5-1 per
cent.”

“Nitrates levels are already
falling towards the recommended levels without these outdated measures
and agriculture is already contributing to this – we use 40 per cent
less nitrate fertilizer than we did 20 years ago, there has been a
reduction in livestock and therefore manure and farming techniques have
become much more efficient at utilizing nitrogen.”

Industry
lobbying did succeed in getting Defra to drop the proposal for cover
crops to reduce run-off from bare ground and for it to pursue a
derogation from the European Commission nitrogen limit of 170 kg per
hectare per annum.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*