‘Government must review the disproportionate level of nitrates inspections’

The Government must review the disproportionate level of nitrates inspections that are imposed on farmers, IFA Environment Chairman, Thomas Cooney has said.

Cooney was speaking after an IFA delegation met Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Local Government Minister Simon Coveney to set out IFA’s priorities in the forthcoming review of the nitrates regulations.

The Government must also work with the sector to deliver compliance and improved water quality, rather than just enforce penalties, Cooney said.

“IFA will work with Ministers Creed and Coveney and the European Commission to safeguard the continuation of the nitrates derogation for the 7,000 farmers who will underpin the development of the sector over the coming years.”

IFA President Joe Healy said that farmers have made a real contribution to an improved rural environment.

Over €2 billion has been spent on slurry storage and on ensuring that farmyards are at the highest environmental standards.

“This has paid dividend, with a 92% reduction in rivers that are classified as seriously polluted. This provides a real platform for the review of the nitrates regulations to deliver progressive actions, which support the sustainable development of the sector in line with the Food Wise 2025 ambitions.”

Tom Hogan, IFA Pigs Committee Chairman has urged both Ministers to urgently address the situations that pig and poultry farmers find themselves in and to ensure that the transitional arrangements remain in place.

“Pig and poultry manures are valuable nutrients that farmers must be supported to use, however they are also costly to haul around the country.

“Policy measures, including the introduction of supports for anaerobic digestion, must be put in place as part of the continuation of the transitional arrangements.”

Over the coming weeks, IFA will continue to meet with senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Local Government and the European Commission to safeguard farmers’ interests in the nitrates negotiations.

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