Relief and some fear around  additional restrictions in new nitrate derogation

Ireland’s new nitrate derogation requires that farmers availing of it must applied 50% of all slurry before June 15, and can only apply slurry after this date with low emission equipment.

To be eligible for a derogation, farmers must have sufficient storage for all livestock manure and soiled water produced on the holding.

IFA President Joe Healy said that the EU Commission decision to renew the derogation will underpin sustainable delivery of Food Wise 2025 objectives.

He welcomed it as an important first step in addressing significant soil fertility issues, including increased phosphorous allowances for nutrient deficient soils to support grass growth.

IFA expressed concern over new additional restrictions for those who avail of the derogation, and who wish to spread slurry, and transitional arrangements for pig and poultry farmers.

The derogation for the next four years is hugely important in particular for dairy farmers, said ICMSA President John Comer.

He said farmers understand the growing emphasis on environmental issues and have invested in their facilities accordingly, but are concerned about new measures for farm roadways, water troughs, and slurry spreading on derogation farms.

In contrast to the EU Commission renewing the Irish derogation, it forced Dutch dairy farmers to reduce cow numbers by 50,000, and possibly by 160,000, due phosphate pollution. This heightened recent Irish fears of loss of the derogation which would affect over 7,000 farmers here (mainly dairy) availing of it.

Denis Drennan, milking 60 cows in Co Kilkenny, said: “Removal of the derogation would almost be like re-introducing milk quotas.

“I am stocked at over three cows to the hectare at the moment. I would immediately have to cut back or else find extra rented land.

“We are all going to be fighting for the same parcel of extra land, or else we are all going to have to reduce numbers.”

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