The lack of engagement and information from the Department of Agriculture on the impending changes that will affect many farmers, and specifically those in derogation, due to the new Nitrates Action Plan is disrespectful, according to IFA Dairy Chairman Stephen Arthur.
“I am meeting farmers all around the country, both at IFA-organised information events and informally, and most are totally unaware of the changes that will happen in the next few months that may have a detrimental effect on their ability to remain viable,” he said.
“The new banding regime will come in on Jan 1st, 2023, but many have no idea how exactly this will be calculated. This change could mean a significant reduction in stock numbers on some farms. The Department must take responsibility here to engage with and inform all farmers on what is coming in only four months’ time.”
Mr Arthur added “farmers are further frustrated to see in the media over the last few days that fines of €5,000 will be imposed for not complying with the new fertiliser register, but no information on how this register will actually work is available. Moves like this have farmers on the ground feeling like they are being treated with contempt”.
“Added to the many other changes in the new Nitrates Action Plan is the threat of a reduction in the organic nitrogen level in some areas to 220 kgs per hectare at the interim review next year. This measure was never mentioned during the consultations on this new plan last year and have placed a huge burden of worry on many family farms.”
IFA National Environmental Chairman Paul O Brien said due to the raft of new measures, many farmers, not only those in dairy, will be affected by this Nitrates Action Plan.
“It is very disappointing that the Department of Agriculture has to date not organised to meet farmers to inform them on exactly what is involved. I am encouraging the Department to organise information meetings as soon as possible as would have happened prior to Covid restrictions. These are required so farmers are fully aware of all changes and to ensure they do not fall foul of these new regulations.”