IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has rejected Teagasc’s ill-timed research suggesting that tighter slurry spreading restrictions should be imposed on farmers.
He said, “It is extraordinary that Teagasc would come out with these proposals at a time when many farmers are rehousing stock and using additional fodder due to poor weather, while struggling to manage farm nutrients under the existing regulations. It would be better for Teagasc to support IFA and challenge the existing nitrates regulations. Best farming, environmental and grass growing conditions must be the key to farmers’ decisions. Farmers should not be expected to farm based on some calendar dates.”
“Farmers have made huge investments in on-farm agri-environment measures over the past decade, with schemes such as GLAS continuously oversubscribed. Over €2billion worth of investments have been made by farmers in ensuring farms and yards achieve the highest environmental standards and this is paying dividend, with Ireland’s water quality continuously above EU average standards.”
Teagasc must refocus their agri-environment research to provide flexibility to farmers to farm based on best agronomic and environmental conditions, as opposed to calendar dates, Thomas Cooney said, they must also demonstrate that farming can take place environmentally sustainably below the nitrates baseline of 170kg of organic nitrogen per hectare, while remembering that Ireland adopted a whole territory approach when implementing the regulations.