The land rental market is facing “massive disruption” as a result of Ireland’s nitrates derogation being cut from 250kg of organic nitrogen per hectare to 220kg.

The move is likely to result in cattle, sheep and tillage farmers who are leasing land seeing more intense competition for land from the dairy sector.

Higher-stocked farms in derogation have less than four months to reduce stock numbers or lease more land. However, all farmers across the country are set to be impacted by the move.

Estimates suggest that almost 30,000ha are needed in the dairy sector alone to maintain current stocking levels.

The derogation cut, which comes into effect on 1 January 2024, was confirmed following a virtual meeting between Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and the European Commission this week.

IFA president Tim Cullinan warned that the move will cause “untold damage” to farm incomes and result in “massive disruption to the land market”.

He also demanded that the Taoiseach intervene on the issue.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the decision will put the nail in the coffin of many family farms.