IFA president Tim Cullinan has said farmers can’t be the whipping boys when it comes to measures for improving water quality.
He told an Oireachtas committee on agriculture meeting on nitrates on Tuesday 14 September that the IFA has massive concerns about water quality.
“We all know there is concerns around water treatment plants in towns and cities and we can’t be the whipping boys and taking the blame for what's going on there,” he said.
Cullinan called on water quality testing results taken downstream from water treatment plants to be made available to farmers.
“We want to be part of the solution, we want to be able to assess water quality in a proper manner and see what’s going on there,” he said.
He said the review of the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) “must not be used by Government to legislate for other policy objectives including emission reduction targets that provide minimal benefits to water quality”.
He added that the Government must engage in genuine negotiation with farmers to agree a NAP that achieves its objectives, without placing unnecessary and excessive requirements on farmers.
Pat McCormack, president of the ICMSA, said that the current Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advice Programme (ASSAP) was conducted in a positive light and it was not used as a stick to beat farmers with.
“It highlights that a lot can be achieved in a positive place with a helping hand,” he said.
In relation to the proposed chemical fertiliser register, he said the register needs to be kept as simple as possible for farmers.
“We deal with Mother Nature, no two years are the same. There needs to be a degree of movement there because we’ve seen it in the past where we’ve had years of fodder crises and years of drought, there needs to be flexibility there to accommodate those effects as we move forward,” he said.
See this week’s Irish Farmers Journal for more on the meeting.