Farmers urged to check statements ahead of looming nitrates reporting deadline

It is essential that farmers inform the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of measures taken by them to keep nitrates levels remaining under limits by the end of the year, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

Cross-compliance fines related to farmers exceeding the 170kg nitrogen (N)/ha nitrates limit or the 250kg N/ha for derogation farms are common and such measures should help to reduce farmers’ exposure to such penalties in 2019, ICMSA Farm and Rural Affairs Committee chairman Denis Drennan said.

Commenting on the matter, Drennan added: “The ICMSA believes that the current penalty regime is cumbersome, unfair on farmers and should have been reformed as part of the Nitrates Review.

Unfortunately, this did not happen and farmers should now check their N status to make sure that they are meeting the regulations and thus avoiding a financial penalty.

“If farmers have breached these limits, they must now inform the department before December 31 on the measures they took during the year to bring them under the limit,” the chairman said.

Drennan noted that such measures include: renting additional land that is not included in one’s BPS application; reducing livestock numbers; or exporting enough slurry or farmyard manure.

“Affected farmers need to complete the relevant paperwork – the relevant R3, R4 or R5 forms are available on the department website – and send it to the Nitrates Department, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, before the December 31 deadline to avoid penalties.

With more cows on farms, farmers that were compliant with this regulation in previous years may no longer be so.

“We’d really urge farmers not to be complacent on this matter and check their statements now while they still have time to rectify matters,” Drennan concluded.