Dairygold chair Seán O’Brien called on the Department of Agriculture to immediately extend the 70% grant aid for slurry storage to all farmers.

“If we can pick and choose when we want to spread, it gives us better utilisation of these Ps and Ks and Ns. If we have more storage, we will prevent nitrogen loss,” O’Brien said.

“All we’re looking for is grant aid that will deliver [the cost of providing grant aid] back into you anyway in tax.

“If we have more storage, we take away the likelihood of losses of N [to water]. I’m pleading with you to put a 70% grant out for all livestock and dairy farmers in January 2024.”

While O’Brien said that the current 70% grant was available only to tillage farmers, Ted Massey from the Department of Agriculture clarified that the grant was open to all slurry importers and not just importing tillage farmers.

Massey also added that Minister McConalogue was seeking an amendment to Ireland’s CAP strategic plan to allow for a separate €90,000 ceiling for slurry storage.

Future reports

O’Brien also called on Mary Gurrie of the EPA to include in future reports scientific data about the length of time required for the effect of measures, such as the drop from 250kg to 220kg and cow banding to be seen, and what to expect from year to year.

This, the Dairygold chair maintained, would allow Department negotiators to prove that measures have been taken with a long-term view, and would give Ireland a better chance of retaining future derogations.