UFU offers training for slurry contractors amid concern licensing could be introduced

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has announced plans to hold two online training sessions to inform slurry contractors about several changes to the Nutrients Action Programme implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The virtual events follow on from the UFU’s initial meeting with contractors about the changes in January 2020, and will include content delivered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

It comes amid union concern the department could take steps to introduce licences for slurry contractors should water quality fails to improve in the region.

Pressure to avoid further restrictions

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “We’re delivering the online training events on Zoom with the help of CAFRE, to provide information to contractors on the regulations on spreading slurry, fertiliser and manures within the NAP.

We understand that the present time is a very busy period in the farming calendar with fieldwork needing done, and whilst the training is voluntary, it is extremely important that contractors do their best to attend one of the meetings to ensure that they are fully complying, particularly in the run-up to the closed period.

“The agriculture industry, including contractors, is coming under pressure to show that it is working towards improving water quality and compliance with these regulations to avoid further restrictions.

“There have been indications that if spreading compliance and water quality does not improve in Northern Ireland, the licensing of slurry contractors may have to be considered.

“Awareness of the changes, and knowing what is expected of contractors, is critical to preventing this.”

The two training sessions will take place at 8:00p.m on Zoom, on Tuesday, September 21, and Tuesday, September 28.

Farmers and contractors who wish to attend can register their attendance here on the UFU website.

Following on from these online training events, the UFU is proposing to host a practical, on-farm in-person session during the closed period.

It also plans to hold additional meetings for contractors on issues such as using farm vehicles on the road.