Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) is currently examining the implications of the cut to Ireland’s nitrates derogation on behalf of its processing members and suppliers.
A spokesperson for DII, the body which represents dairy processors, characterised the decision as a “deeply negative step” on Irish dairy’s sustainability journey.
It has called for further strong investment to support its ongoing work in the area of improving water quality and wants farmers to be supported and recognised for their improvements.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) results showed stabilisation of water quality, but not the improvement required.
“But the science also acknowledges that water quality improvements are a long-term game and do not happen in the timescales agreed in the review period between the Department [of Agriculture] and the [European] Commission.
“We were in no way complacent about the derogation renewal, but we did expect that any changes would be based on science,” the DII spokesperson said.
Any action to protect water quality is welcomed, they continued, but actions have to be based on the science and be proven environmentally, economically and socially.
“The Teagasc report earlier in the year shows that this was not taken into account.
“What there is now is uncertainty from both the processing sector and on the supplier side in terms of the direction of travel and this policy incoherence needs to be arrested before we undermine what is the State’s largest native industry.
“We will look to work with our partners across the industry and Government to see how we can improve water quality and mitigate the impacts of this decision across farm families in many sectors.
“The protection of the grass-based family farm model is paramount and this is a step in the wrong direction away from that.”