IFA president Tim Cullinan said the focus of the IFA’s work in the coming months would be on the Climate Action Plan and its impact on agriculture.

An IFA delegation met with Minister Charlie McConalogue before Christmas to discuss the Food Vision groups, the Climate Action Plan and other key issues.

“The Food Vision group reports were not agreed by the IFA or any other farming group. It would be wrong for the Government to move ahead unilaterally,” Cullinan said.

“We made it clear that the IFA is willing to engage further to try and find agreement around a Climate Action Plan for the sector,” he said.

“There is a real danger the Government is going to do real damage to our sector to meet a short-term target, while technological advancements in the sector could well help us achieve our 2030 targets,” he said.

“We also pointed out that changes to the nitrates derogation, since the Food Vision groups were established, will impact output, cow numbers and will have unintended consequences for every sector as it is already driving up prices for land rental,” he said.

Last month, the High Court approved an order joining the IFA, and four of its members, as notice parties to the impending judicial review of the fifth Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) on foot of a challenge by An Taisce.

The IFA has been engaging with the courts since September and has now been formally included as a notice party.

Cullinan said the IFA understands how the Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) impacts its members. “We will use our role as a notice party to ensure that the concerns of farm families are fully heard in the court.

“As a notice party, the IFA will have the opportunity to participate fully in the case which is being defended by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

“It also gives the IFA the right to appeal the outcome of the judicial review should we choose to do so.”

The NAP impacts all farmers, governing stocking rates, fertiliser usage limits, slurry application methods and closed periods amongst others.

Any substantial changes to the NAP could have far-reaching consequences for farmers, both directly and indirectly.