There won’t be a change to the decision to cut Ireland’s nitrates derogation, European Commissioner for Financial Stability Mairead McGuinness has said.
She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday that Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevicius “have been very clear about the derogation and the move back, which will impact some farmers, to 220[kg]”.
“The discussion and the invitation to come to Ireland, that will happen and there will be, I hope, a very good meeting between not just politicians, but also the farmers as well.
“As far as I am concerned, and the discussion we’ve had at our level in the Commission, is that there won’t be a change.
"What I think is really important, there’s a figure of about 3,000 farmers that might be impacted. We need to look forensically at how many will actually be impacted and how we can mitigate the impacts,” she said.
The other side of the equation is water quality, Commissioner McGuinness said.
“I think we do have to acknowledge that we all want good-quality water and all sectors have to contribute to avoiding any pollution of our waterways.
"In one sense, a lot of the conversation yesterday [at the Ploughing] was around how are we going to have sustainable food production, which means that we do continue to produce food but also manage the natural environment,” she said.
She said there is an “intense discussion needed” about how we allocate our land resources for the betterment of food production, forestry, carbon farming and solar farms.
“There will be a new strategic dialogue with farmers across Europe, led by the Commission… so that we have a pathway that removes some of the uncertainty and fear among farming families that also may be discouraging young people from farming and we need to have that discussion to give that discretion and clarity,” she said.
When asked about the potential for a farmers' party to be established, she said farmers are not united.
“I think that’s very clear because of the different enterprises, there’s less unity among farmers today than there was in the early 2000s and that doesn’t help farmers have a coherent voice. I don’t think there should be one party that has a voice for one sector, but of course you respect what will happen and democracies allow for that,” she said.
Commenting on her future role following the conclusion of her commissionership next year, McGuinness said she is willing to serve for another term.
“I’ve been very clear with the Government, and publicly, that I’m willing to serve again, but I fully respect that this is a decision for the Government,” she said.