Nitrates Derogation

IFA Reaction to Proposed New Nitrates Measures

IFA Environment chair John Murphy said the outcome of the interim review of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) will result in additional asks on farmers.

The proposed additional measures, announced by the Minister for Agriculture last week, include a 5% reduction in inorganic nitrogen as well as a shorter notification period for slurry movements.

They also reduce the excretion rate of 0-3-month-old calves along with a mechanism to allow dairy farmers who feed lower protein concentrates to reduce the excretion rate of their cows.

“There is no doubt that farmers will view these as yet more requirements being placed on them.  Some of these measures, such as the 5% reduction in inorganic N, were already flagged at the start of the programme in 2023. Others, such as the reduced excretion value of calves, will help in allowing farmers adjust to the stocking rates they now have to adhere to due to the reduction to max stocking rate of 220kg in most of the country.”

These proposals, which will go to public consultation, are the result of the interim review of the NAP – a stipulation of the renewal of the programme.

John Murphy said the proposed four-day notification of slurry movements is not practicable, particularly for pig farmers. IFA will further engage with Department officials on this issue to find a feasible solution that works for all.

“The bottom line here is many of these proposed measures will place more burdens on farmers. It is vital that the Government deliver on their side of the bargain and protect our current derogation. It’s simply not fair to expect farmers to continuously take on more measures without any guarantee of our derogation,” he concluded.

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