Farmers to meet the Taoiseach to raise concerns over the nitrates derogation

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European regulations aimed at reducing water pollution mean that farmers can only produce 170 kilograms of organic nitrogen per hectare of farmland.

Ireland currently has a derogation agreement that means some farmers have been permitted to produce 250 kilograms.

The EU Commission says the derogation would fall to 220 kilograms from January 1st – leaving farmers with three options – reduce the herd, buy more land or find someone to take slurry from their farms.

President of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Toomevara pig farmer Tim Cullinan will be asking Leo Varadkar for real and workable solutions.

“We need action now – I mean we’ve been highlighting this for a substantial amount of time now. Farmers have plans made for the coming year – the cows are in calf and I will be asking the Taoiseach how can you drop this on an industry overnight. It’s just impossible to do the proposal coming from government. So we need real solutions and we need them immediately.”

Meanwhile the Chair of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee says the European Commission’s unwillingness to listen to any concerns in relation to nitrates derogation limits has been ‘shocking’.

Tipperary Fianna Fáil TD and farmer Jackie Cahill, has pleaded with his party colleague Minister Charlie McConalogue to reiterate how worried farmers in Ireland are.

Deputy Cahill told the Minister at a meeting this morning, he was shocked by how they have been treated by the commission.

“Putting on my hat as a derogation farmer we would urge to try and get the commission to reconsider their decision. We were in Brussels two weeks ago as an Oireachtas committee and we heard first hand from the Commissioner about the decision and his inflexibility on that decision. His intransigence on the decision was frightening. That worries me as regards derogation and our battle to get this decision reviewed.”