IFA Environment Chairman Paul O’Brien said it’s vital that real negotiations on the new Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) begin.
He was speaking following IFA’s submission to the Government’s 2nd stage Public Consultation on Ireland’s Draft Nitrates Action Programme.
“The outcome of the current review will have significant implications for farmers across all sectors of Irish agriculture. A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach must not be adopted. The measures introduced must reflect the different production systems and management practices on farms,” he said.
Results from programmes like the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advice Programme (ASSAP) show that targeted measures offered the greatest potential to improve outcomes for water quality on Irish farms. Any changes must be practical and take account of the different farm practices across various sectors.
“The Department must engage in genuine negotiations with farmers to agree a NAP that achieves its objectives to protect water quality from agricultural sources, without placing unnecessary and excessive requirements on farmers. Farmers also need adequate phase-in times to allow them to adopt any revised measures at individual farm level.”
He said as custodians of the environment, farmers understand their responsibility to comply with regulations to protect and improve water quality, but they cannot accept the review being used to deliver climate objectives that have unsubstantiated benefits to water quality.
“The Department must not use the review to limit its responsibility to support farmers in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Where costs are imposed, grant aid and Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) schemes must be introduced to support farmers to realise the greater environmental standards, which would benefit the entire country,” he said.