The EU Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius is to visit Ireland later this month, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.

Speaking ahead of today’s (Tuesday, November 7) Cabinet meeting, the minister said that a provisional date of November 23 had been agreed for the visit.

The commissioner was invited to visit Ireland by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in relation to Ireland’s nitrates derogation.

Commissioner Sinkevicius has been invited to meet with the Taoiseach, Minister McConalogue and a delegation from the Irish agriculture sector.


Minister McConalogue previously confirmed that a total of 2,150 farmers will be impacted by the reduction from 250kg nitrogen (N) per hectare to 220kg N/ha from next year.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has published a “baseline map” specifically setting out the areas where the nitrates derogation will be reduced.

Fine Gael MEP Colm Markey has said the Commissioner Sinkevicius is open to “flexibilities” around implementing Ireland’s nitrates cut and is very conscious of the tight time-frame involved.

The Midlands-North-West MEP attended a meeting with the commissioner in Brussels yesterday (Monday, November 6).

“On nitrates, he recognised the challenges being faced by farmers and is open to flexibilities, within the 220kg, that would mitigate the impact of the decision.

“The commissioner repeated that he does not want to see a herd cull and is very conscious of the tight time-frame involved,” he said.

As required by the EU Commission, under the terms of Ireland’s derogation under the Nitrates Derogation, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) carried out an interim review of water quality earlier this year.

The EPA published its “Water Quality Monitoring Report on Nitrogen and Phosphorus Concentrations in Irish waters 2022” in June.

This had contained a “red” map indicating where farms would have to reduce their rate of organic manure nitrogen from 250kg N/ha to 220kg N/ha.