JOBS will be at risk in the agri sector if the Government does not amend the nitrates directive, the Irish Farmers Association claimed yesterday.
IFA president John Bryan said the current review of the nitrates regulations is a key test of the Government’s commitment to safeguard jobs and remove impractical restrictions which impose unnecessary costs on farming and curtail the sector’s capacity to expand.
Speaking at a lobby session with Oireachtas members in Dublin, he said the agriculture sector has significant potential to expand.
“However, bureaucratic regulations, which dictate how people should farm, based on the time of the year rather than grass growing and soil conditions, are crazy.
“The restrictive calendar farming regime must be replaced with a system which allows farmers to spread based on ground suitability and best advice from Met Éireann and Teagasc.
“These state agencies can tell us how the climate will change in 50 or 100 years, it is about time they also used their science to tell us how we can spread slurry in early January also,” he said.
Mr Bryan said ministers Brendan Smith (Agriculture) and John Gormley (Environment) must use this review to safeguard the thousands of jobs in the pig and poultry sectors, which will be decimated if they do not introduce workable solutions.
He said the IFA has met with both departments on a number of occasions and proposed alternatives.
“However, no recommendations put forward by either the IFA or Teagasc have been accepted to date,” he said.
Mr Bryan said the current ban on winter ploughing and the unrealistic requirement to achieve a green cover within six weeks is eroding grain growers’ competitiveness by up to €60 per hectare, compared with other countries such as England, which does not have such restrictive regulations.
“Ireland is the third largest exporter of beef in the world and a substantial exporter of milk and other agricultural products.
“This nitrates review presents a real test to Government of their commitment to work with farmers and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.”
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