Following confirmation that Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) will not be approved at European level by year-end, IFA Environment Chair Paul O’Brien said the existing nitrates regulation (including the derogation) must be extended until the next Nitrates Action Programme and accompanying derogation is in place.
IFA has been advised by the Department of Agriculture that the NAP review will not now be completed by the end of the year. Consequently, the Commission cannot approve the NAP (including the derogation) until its next meeting, scheduled for next March.
“Farmers are concerned to learn that the review of the 5th cycle of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP), covering the period 2022 – 2025, will not be completed by the end of 2021 as planned,” he said.
“This news is extremely worrying. The existing nitrates regulations are due to expire at the end of the year, yet the new proposals are not agreed.”
IFA Dairy Chairman Stephen Arthur said that this delay concerns dairy farmers along with intensive drystock farmers whose farm businesses depend entirely on the derogation.
“It was expected that the derogation would be sought at December’s meeting. We are now looking at a delay of three months with no clarity in the interim.”
Paul O’Brien said, “The Department must extend the current Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters regulation and the associated nitrates derogation to provide farmers with certainty”.
“Farmers need assurances that they can continue to operate under the existing regulation and derogation until the NAP review process has been completed and approved by the European Commission in the new year,” he said.