Applications for a 2014 Nitrates Derogation will open this Friday and farmers are being encouraged to apply online.
Farmers and their agents registered with www.agfood.ie can submit 2014 derogation applications online from this date. The documentation for postal applications will also be available for download on the Department of Agriculture’s website the same day.
In a statement this afternoon, Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said: “Having secured a favourable vote on Ireland’s request for a continuation of the Nitrates Derogation for the next four years at last week’s meeting of the member states, I am, moving quickly to open the process for submission of applications.”
He said this decision brings certainty to farmers planning to maximise farm output over the next four years and is particularly important for the Food Harvest Grow with Strategy ambitions post 2015.
As in previous years, the closing date for receipt of paper derogation applications will be the 31 March 2014. Applications will, however, be accepted using the online system until the 30 April 2014.
According to the Department of Agriculture, just under half of all applications were submitted online in 2013, the first year of the new online system. It said this year fertiliser records for 2013 can now also be submitted online improving the facility further.
The department is keen that farmers and agents embrace this new technology.
“My department will assist in any way it can to ensure that farmers and agents are comfortable in using the system. Online application bring many advantages, reducing errors and providing immediate confirmation of application,” the minister said.
The Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements for the 2013 calendar year are now available to all farmers at agfood.ie. “These statements are a valuable tool in helping farmers to decide whether or not they need to apply for a derogation,” the minister added.
According to the department, non-derogation farmers at nitrates levels between 150 and 170kgs, and derogation farmers up to 250kgs Nitrogen per hectare, who are registered with the department for SMS text alerts, will receive their 2013 figures by text message in the coming days. Written statements will only issue to those herdowners in breach of the 170/250 kg limits, it added.
The minister also encouraged farmers that expect to exceed the stocking rate limit in 2014 to apply for a derogation or take other remedial action and thereby avoid penalties being applied to their scheme payments.