Warning on stricter NVZ ruling

Industry leaders have warned that stricter nitrate regulations could be detrimental to livestock farmers, after Defra announced a review of the current directive. 

The consultation will run until March 2012 and could result in the expansion of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) from 62% to the whole of England, removing competitive inequalities, but increasing costs for farmers.

Lizzie Press, regions manager at the National Pig Association (NPA), said the issue of NVZs was very complex.“Expanding the NVZs to the whole of England could be beneficial to some farmers and detrimental to others. It would create a level playing field, but it could also remove the ability for farmers to export manure very easily,” she told Meat Trades Journal. 

The NPA is working with Defra on the consultation, but Press cautioned: “If we impose stricter regulations, farmers are in danger of really struggling to comply with them. The directive needs to be outcome-based and actually make a difference.”

She added that the initial Nitrates Directive, implemented by the European Commission in 1991 to reduce water pollution, had had positive effects on farming, but had meant increased costs. She said: “Farmers should have six months’ worth of slurry storage in place by now. It represents quite a significant budget increase, especially for indoor intensive farmers.”

National Farmers Union head of policy services Andrew Clark deemed the review “premature and unnecessary”, adding that some of the measures included in the current regulation had only just come into force, making it difficult to assess 
any impact.

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