Expecting Farmers to Reduce Stock by January 1st is Totally Unfair – Farmers Thrown Under the Bus

IFA President Tim Cullinan said it is totally unfair that farmers are expected to reduce stock numbers by January 1st due to the midterm review of the Nitrates derogation. 

Following a meeting with the EU Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius in the Dept of Agriculture today, Tim Cullinan said farmers have been thrown under a bus by the Minister for Agriculture and the EU Commission. 

“We were very clear with the Commissioner that we are very proud of our grass-based production system which is the basis for our derogation,” he said.

“The mid-term review mechanism agreed by our Department was unfair and did not give any time for the measures underway out to have a positive effect on water quality,” he said.

IFA National Environment Chair Paul O’Brien, who also attended the meeting, said the reality is that reducing the upper limit of the derogation from 250kg of organic nitrogen per ha to 220kg will have little impact on water quality.

“It will, however have huge consequences for the farmers directly impacted and for thousands more farmers indirectly impacted, as it will further increase the cost of rented land. We stressed this very strongly to the Commissioner,” he said.

“In addition, it is clear that it is completely unreasonable to expect farmers in the so-called ‘Red Zone’ to reduce their stocking rate to 220kg by the end of this year, which is less than six weeks away,” Paul O’Brien added.

“Farmers made the decision to put their cows in calf last spring before any decision was taken. It is unreasonable and not in line with good animal welfare to now expect farmers to cull these in-calf cows,” he said.

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