A farm leader has warned that any undermining of the nitrates derogation would do untold damage to Irish family farms and would, overnight, make many of them unviable enterprises.
Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president John Comer said the nitrates regulations and derogration are up for review in 2017.
He said the regulations contain many aspects, including ‘calendar farming’, that are hugely frustrating for farmers and needs to be looked at again.
“The regulations should be tailored to take account of the practical realities of farming in Ireland. We simply cannot continue to farm by the calendar,” he said.
On a related matter, Mr Comer said that farmers in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA) are now at a massive disadvantage to the point where land abandonment is an issue.
“The policymakers will simply have to address where a farm family wants and needs to farm at a commercial level in these areas,” he stated at the ICMSA annual conference in Limerick.
“Sterilisng their land, as is happening now, is a recipe for disaster and will bring greater problems and issues down the line.
“I believe at this stage a complete review of land designations, along with proper compensation, for the people affected is an absolute must.”
Mr Comer said land designations, including those in hen harrier areas, and their impact on farm families’ ability to earn an income from farming and develop their farm is a massive issue.
He said the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in the ICMSA’s opinion, is choosing to ignore these challenges.
“I believe they will pay a heavy price in future years unless they address the genuine concerns of farmers,” he said.
Mr Comer also warned that the Irish Water proposed pipeline from Parteen Weir to Dublin has very serious implications for the landowners concerned. He said they are questioning the need for this project and how they can continue to farm during construction and afterwards.
“The concerns of these landowners must be fully addressed and taken on board,” he said.
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