Farmers want deadline extended for submitting Nitrates Directive forms

The ICMSA is calling for an extension of the deadline for submission of records in relation to the Nitrates directive.

Abut 40% of Cross-Compliance penalties relate to farmers exceeding the organic Nitrates limit.

Under the Nitrates Regulations, farmers are obliged to ensure that the total amount of Nitrogen from organic manure applied to their own lands, including that from animals, does not exceed certain limits.

Denis Drennan, Chairperson of ICMSA’s Farm & Rural Affairs Committee, says it is quite clear that the current implementation system is not working and needs to be reformed.

He says one of the first changes that should be made is to extend the closing date for the submission of records to the end of January each year.

He also says there should be an online system of recording, adding that such a change would ensure better compliance amongst farmers and would bring us into line with the system in place in Northern Ireland.

Farmers in Northern Ireland have until March 1st to submit their Nitrates organic fertiliser export records in 2018 while in other years, the form had to be submitted by 31 January.

The deadline for submitting the same form to the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine is 31 December.

In 2016, 1,629 farmers incurred penalties for breaching certain limits.

The ICMSA believes that many of these penalties relate to the failure to submit the relevant paperwork, such as the slurry export form, to the Department by the December 31st deadline.

Many farmers miss this deadline  because they are unaware of their final position until after 31 December, which is also in the middle of the Christmas break, all resulting in unnecessary penalties being applied.