Specific measures to support farmers affected by the cut to the nitrates derogation will be announced in the coming weeks, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said.

Minister Donohoe told the Irish Farmers Journal that the Government recognises the kind of change that will be required on Irish farms and how challenging it will be.

However, although these changes will be difficult, they will help with the long-term sustainability of Irish food, he maintained.

He added that he will be working with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to "outline specific measures in a couple of weeks' time".

"Minister Heydon along with Minister McConalogue are already emphasising to me the key things they believe should be in the budget."

Minister Donohoe said he was "very much aware" of the effects cut to the nitrates derogation will have on farmers.

"We have recognised this in other changes that we've made.

"Minister Heydon and Minister McConalogue made the point to me in the run-up to last year's budget that the tax treatment in relation to the equipment that is needed to store slurry needed to be changed and the reason why we made that change then was to help farmers with the kind of change that is needed due to the impact that slurry and nitrates are having on water quality," he said.

He added that he will be engaging with his ministerial colleagues to see what further steps can be taken to support the farming community and the changes that must be made to improve water quality.