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Ministers urged to review nitrates rules

By Ray Ryan, Agribusiness Correspondent
GOVERNMENT bungling on the nitrates directive must come to an end, Fine Gael warned as it urged the Environment and Agriculture Ministers to undertake a full review of the rules, based on Teagasc’s scientific advice.

Party spokesman Denis Naughten said a meeting of the Oireachtas Environment Committee this week recommended that Environment Minister Dick Roche direct Teagasc to review nitrates as well as phosphates rules. He urged Mr Roche to follow this recommendation.

"Government bungling on this issue and the blame game they have attempted to engage in would almost be laughable were it not for the fact that the future of Irish farmers is under threat from the draconian regulations that are proposed," he said.

"Elements of the plan have come into force without any information campaign for farmers, despite the fact that they could face up to six months in prison for non-compliance, while part of it has been suspended pending scientific advice."

Mr Naughten said Mr Roche and Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan have been accused by Teagasc of ignoring the advice they were given.

"It is time that they started listening to the best practice advice. These regulations threaten the very survival of thousands of farmers and the Government cannot continue to ignore their plight," he said.

IFA president Padraig Walshe also said yesterday the narrow review of phosphorus that Teagasc is undertaking at the behest of the Agriculture Minister is inadequate.