Ireland has a unique and compelling case to make to avail of the nitrates derogation due to our grass-based production system, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman has said.

“We can improve water quality in Ireland without decimating Irish farming,” he said.

The IFA president said that while the Danish government has decided not to pursue a further derogation, Danish farmers have a very different farming system to the one in Ireland.

Less than 10% of Denmark’s farmland is under permanent grassland, compared with over 90% in Ireland.

“Our Government must defend our derogation and put the full resources of the State into ensuring we secure it,” he said.

Water quality

“We fully accept that water quality needs to improve and farmers have taken on over 30 actions.

"It is not right that farmers would invest in these actions and the plug is then pulled on the derogation, without allowing any time to measure the impact of these actions,” he said.

“Policy makers must have regard towards environmental, economic and social sustainability.

"Removing the nitrates derogation is a blunt instrument that is unlikely to improve water quality, but which will certainly decimate the income of thousands of farm families,” he said.

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