Dairy farmers who are members of a Cork discussion group are set to lose an average of €12,000 per year each under the plans to reduce the upper stocking rate limit to 220kg N/ha next year.

The figures were calculated by Teagasc advisor Adrian O’Callaghan, who was speaking at an IFA meeting organised for politicians at Tim Mullane’s farm in Cork last week.

O’Callaghan said that the reduction in profit will come about from a combination of extra land leasing costs and fewer dairy cows as members adjust to the new rules.

Extra land

He said that in total, five members of the 3C South of Lee discussion group have already leased an extra 160 acres for 2023.

Seven of the 17 members are in the top band for nitrates per cow, and eight members were over 220kg N/ha in 2022. With banding now in place, he expects the average to be at 230kg N/ha for 2023.

Across his 100 dairy farmer clients, O’Callaghan said 81% are in a nitrates derogation and 51 farms or 63% of those in a derogation are above 220kg N/ha currently.

“To comply with 220kg N/ha would mean 917 less dairy cows across these 51 farms. At an average profitability of €1,000/cow that means €917,000 net profit potentially taken from these 51 farms, or reduction in profit of €18,000 per farm,” he said.