The potential loss of Ireland’s nitrates derogation will intensify land competition in Ireland, MEP Billy Kelleher has warned.

“Competition for land between dairy and other farmers will only get worse if Ireland does not secure an extension to its nitrates directive derogation,” said the Fianna Fáil politician.

Summarising the impact, MEP Kelleher added: “We will sleepwalk into further hikes in the price of land if the derogation is not extended.”

Kelleher is a member of the European Parliament’s environment and climate action committee, which takes the lead on many agri-environment pieces of legislation.

‘Make or break’

The Cork politician also suggested that Ireland’s pending water quality review will either “make or break” the situation.

“Unless progress is seen in terms of improving our water quality, the derogation may be lost. I cannot emphasise enough how important this review will be for Irish agriculture,” he said.

Dairy farmers will out-compete others for land, says MEP Billy Kelleher. \ Donal O'Leary

MEP Kelleher warned that when it comes to competition for land between farmers from different sectors, dairy farmers will win out.

“If the derogation is lost, we can expect a lot of dairy farmers to start actively searching for additional land to rent or buy. This will squeeze tillage, suckler and sheep farmers even more and severely reduce their ability to make a living,” he said.


The MEP called on Government to ensure that the nitrates directive derogation is extended.

“Its loss would be detrimental to the cohesion of Irish agriculture and a major crisis for farm families up and down the country,” he concluded.

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