Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has said that descriptions of the Pilot Soil Sampling Programme as a ‘shambles’ requires immediate action if farmers are to have faith in the department’s commitment to provide climate supports.
His comments came following reports that delays in the scheme had resulted in farmers taking action that may preclude them from participating in the project.
The scheme will see farmers provide soil samples and receive detailed analysis reports with information on nutrients, soil carbon and information on harmful bacteria.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The Soil Sampling scheme has the potential to facilitate farmers making much more detailed and informed decisions regarding their soil management and fertiliser use.
“I firmly believe that we must work towards this style of granularity, on a farm-by-farm basis, in order to help our family farmers meet our climate obligations.
“That the number of applicants for this scheme was more than double the available places is testament to farmers willingness and commitment to play their part.
“However, reports that delays have resulted in farmers having to take actions such as spreading lime, slurry, or fertiliser prior to being sampled will be a cause of great consternation for both those participating and those who were denied a place.
“Too often, farmers must effectively bear the burden alone of increased regulation within their own already too tight margins – with promises of support or mitigation to come down the line.
“This scheme was one of very few indications to farmers that the department was actively working on such supports, and it has now seemingly descended into a farce.
“Minister McConalogue needs to immediately outline the reason for the delay in the implementation of this scheme, and how he intends to see it promptly addressed.”