Eoin Gallagher, Co Donegal

  • Q: “Will farmers have any chance to take remedial action in the case of a non-compliance with the derogation as new rules are imposed?”
  • A: “The challenge is the regulations don’t make any provisions for force majeure. Our inspectors have their own professional discretion and that is where if they believe the farmer was attempting their very best, they will take that into account in terms of their adjudication.”

    Leo Murphy, Co Meath

  • Q: “Is there a limit to how far you can export slurry? Can it be exported to other industries, like anaerobic digesters?”
  • A: “There is no limit on how far you can go but the key thing is that you complete the online form and the importer verifies as well that they received the organic manure. There is no problem if you want to export to anaerobic digestion either.”

    Seamus Dolan, Co Cavan

  • Q: “Should all dairy farmers be tarred with the one brush if you have an area where all rivers within a 20 mile radius are all perfectly clean? Should these farmers be put down to 220kg N/ha if your water quality is very good?”
  • A: “If something comes in at national level or even if it is regionally based, there are always farmers who will be impacted negatively. When we talk about nitrates and nutrient pollution, it is diffuse pollution, a little bit over a large area and that is the challenge.”

    Thomas Cooney, Co Cavan

  • Q: “When is the Department of Agriculture soil sampling scheme for 2023 opening?”
  • A: “We are hoping to go to tender with a view to having a new tranche of the soil sampling [scheme] opening up late summer. Basically, as soon as the arable harvest is up and running, it will be there for farmers to take soil samples.”

    Nicholas Cooney, Co Louth

  • Q: “Post-2025, where are we going to be? We are all farmers and business owners and we need to know where we are going to be.”
  • A: “My aim in the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for water quality is to seek to de-risk the derogation. We cannot take the derogation for granted. Regardless of 220kg N/ha, we need to be planning for the post-2025 period, we need to be planning now.”

    Farmer views

    Mel Martin, Monasterevin, Co Kildare

    “I was inspected for derogation last year and was penalised for not having enough slurry storage. I’m being penalised for two years under the new rules that were changed late last spring 2022. As far as I’m concerned, the derogation period I was inspected for was 2021 and early 2022. You can’t change the rules half way through the game. I’ll take the rap, but I don’t think it’s right that I take the rap when the rules were changed. It’s fair that I’m being thrown out for one year because those were the rules for that year - the rules were changed the following year.”

    Darragh Scott, Urlingford, Co Tipperary

    “I’m farming at 250kg/N/ha, I have 120 dairy cows and I finish all my bull calves to bull beef. I have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks – do I load up the bull calves or do I hang up the dairy cows. Banding is serious on its own before we even get into cutting the derogation and the big problem here is that there’s an income gone out of my farm with banding. The cuts here to farm incomes are savage. Whatever about improving water quality with good incomes, if the money goes out of the system, you cannot build tanks.”

    Seán Cleere, Templetuohy, Co Tipperary

    “There’s a lot more than agriculture contributing to water quality, but it seems here tonight agriculture is carrying the whole can for this. Is any other industry going to take the same economic impact of this? Ted [Massey] had a slide about covering slurry storage, most tanks in the country, if they’re not under the shed, they’re outside and most new slurry storage is not going to have a shed over it because we can’t put anymore stock into them. That was glossed over very quick and if you don’t nail it I’ll nail it.”