NVZ Regulations Hamper Dairy Farmers

UK - Nearly half of farmers surveyed by the NFU will not have enough slurry storage to comply with Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) regulations coming into force in less than a year’s time.
calendar icon 22 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

The survey, looking at measures adopted by dairy farmers to comply with changes to the NVZ Action Programme, has also revealed a fifth of farmers will not invest to meet with the regulation with more than a third planning to invest less than £25k. Construction of new slurry storage can vary from £5/m³ to £40/m³ depending on the type of storage chosen. For a typical 150 cow herd this represents investment of between £13,000 and £90,000 before planning costs.

To further compound the situation 46 per cent of dairy farmers have a nitrogen farm loading above the 170 kg per hectare limit stipulated.

NFU dairy adviser Siân Davies believes this is yet another mountain to climb for struggling dairy farmers.

“The survey has confirmed our worst fears and shown the very low levels of investment within the dairy sector. With farmers on average being paid a milk price 3ppl less than it costs to produce it, there’s no wonder that these investment levels are so low. Complying with the new NVZ rules could be a step too far for some farmers.

“What’s also worrying is the number of dairy farmers that still don’t know their NVZ status or how compliance with the regulations will impact their farm practices. It seems that many may be playing a game of wait and see. But with some of the new regulations already in place and others, such as sufficient slurry storage, coming into force from January 1 2012, farmers don’t have long to comply and some may well question their future in the industry.

“It’s clear that farmers need more support and guidance on complying with the regulation – this means greater use of fiscal incentives such as low-interest loans and tax reliefs, increased promotion and uptake of the grassland derogation and a complete review of RDPE funding, to see how it could be better targeted to help farmers achieve NVZ compliance.

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