A far more workable nitrates action programme is being formulated after amendments were made to the draft plan, Oireachtas Agriculture Committee chair Jackie Cahill has said.
Speaking following a committee meeting on nitrates with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his officials, Cahill said that he believed the amendments made to the original draft will make it far more “workable” for Irish farmers, many of whom he represents in Tipperary.
“On the nitrates action programme, the committee supports the fundamental principle of the programme, which is to reduce the environmental impact on surface and groundwater by the farming industry.
“But there remains a need for far-sighted solutions and there are still concerns about the impact on farm incomes and the extent to which farmers will be financially supported to implement the new measures.
“Both the Minister for Agriculture and Mr Jack Nolan, the departmental official over the nitrates directive, appeared before the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee this week and gave detailed accounts of where we are at securing both the nitrates directive and a derogation for the next few years. I am hopeful that both a derogation and the directive itself will be secured in the near future,” he said.
Cahill said that it was conceded at the meeting that this will bring added expense for farmers.
“I have repeatedly made the point to the Minister that TAMS needs to recognise this going forward, and be adapted accordingly.
“The draft proposal has been available for some time now and this was originally greeted with considerable worry by farmers the length and breadth of the country.
"I am pleased to see that we are being listened to and that key amendments have been made to this. As a result of this, I am confident that there is a far more workable nitrates programme being formulated,” he said.
Cahill said that it was his view that the proposal now being prepared for Brussels is far more workable for Irish farmers.
As reported in this week's Irish Farmers Journal, Ireland is on track to secure a nitrates derogation. However, it may be for just two years instead of four.
Talks regarding the plan are at an advanced stage and it is understood that the introduction of nitrogen excretion bands for cows, planned to come into effect on 1 January 2022, could be pushed back by a year to 2023.