Macra na Feirme will reject any proposals put forward by the Food Vision dairy group that are not fully costed or are found to be lacking in implementation detail, the group has been told.

Macra suggested in its submission to the Food Vision stakeholder group that some of the interim proposals would have a detrimental effect on young farmers if adopted, with its comments particularly disapproving of the chemical nitrogen usage cut and voluntary exit scheme mentioned in the draft report.

A mandatory reduction in chemical nitrogen usage of 30% could make some farms unviable if schemes are not first introduced which would ensure an adequate level of soil fertility, Macra said.

“On the whole, this measure has the potential to seriously damage and potentially shut down farms that are now viable,” Macra said in a statement.

The young farmers’ group clarified that it was supportive of replacing chemical nitrogen inputs with clover where possible, as well as replacing the use of CAN with protected urea.

Dairy farmer exit scheme

Macra stated that the Department of Agriculture had taken a “quantum leap” in changing the proposed terms of a dairy farmer retirement scheme, which could be introduced to reduce cow numbers.

It rejected the interim report’s plan to reduce agricultural activity and called for a more comprehensive payment structure to compensate those who exit the sector.

It said that the exit scheme put forward would increase the demand for land, making it more difficult for young farmers to get going.

On the proposed cap and trade scheme for carbon emissions, Macra questioned how the Department could implement such a model when there is no EU-wide system for trading carbon.

It added that it was in favour of a feasibility assessment being carried out on the model, but not direct implementation.

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