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Smith Outlines Assistance to Pig and Poultry Sectors

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith, today confirmed a number of initiatives to support the intensive pig and poultry sectors, which the Minister described as being of "huge importance, as identified in the Food Harvest 2020 report."

Minister Smith said that he was "particularly pleased with the progress made on developing initiatives to support the pig and poultry sectors, since Ireland's second National Action Programme under the Nitrates Directive was approved by the European Commission last November."

At that time, the Minister welcomed the fact that the EU Commission had granted a limited extension of the transitional arrangement in respect of the land spreading of pig and poultry manure and spent mushroom compost until 1 January 2017 under the new Regulations.  Minister Smith said that this extension "provides the industry with the breathing space necessary to adapt to the requirements of the revised Regulations."

Minister Smith said that "in order to adapt to the new situation post-2013, I am providing funding this year to examine ways in which technology can assist in the transfer of organic manures and my Department is working with closely the industry and Teagasc to explore ways of increasing utilisation of pig and poultry manure on tillage farms".

This year, in a new initiative, the Department issued letters to farmers giving them an estimate of their capacity to take in organic fertiliser this year, based on 2010 Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements. Initial reaction from farmers has been positive and should lead to greater area of spread lands being available for pig and poultry farmers. "This is absolutely vital preparation in advance of January 2013 when limits on the excess phosphorus to be applied will be introduced", he said.

"My Department is also working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and the industry to streamline the procedures for the movement of organic manure from pig and poultry units to other farms. The objective is to reduce the administrative burden on farmers, while at the same time retaining effective control of organic fertiliser transfer", Minister Smith said.

Minister Smith said that "during the negotiations on Nitrates, I was very conscious of the economic importance of the pigs, poultry and mushroom sector and the challenge of dealing with slurry and spent mushroom compost.  I believe that the measures contained in Ireland's new National Action Programme, the renewal of Ireland's derogation and the initiatives developed since to support the pig and poultry sectors will underpin the efforts of Ireland's agri-food sector to meet the ambitious targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 strategy, on the basis of sustainable farming practices."

The Minister concluded by noting that the problems in the pig sector had now being recognised and are being addressed at EU level and reiterated his welcome for the introduction of a new scheme for Aid to Private Storage for the pigmeat sector.  Minister Smith said "I called for such a scheme when I urged the Commission to use the tools available to it to alleviate the pressure on pig producers.  This is a welcome and appropriate response from the Commission and one that will be of particular benefit to the Irish pigmeat industry, which contributed approximately €300 million to farm output in 2009, demonstrating its importance and value to Irish agriculture and the agri-food sector."

Date Released: 23 February 2011