The nitrates banding measures are driving the price of leased land to “wholly unsustainable levels”, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack has said.

Commenting following the opening of applications for the 2023 nitrates derogation, he said that it is also now completely obvious that the banding measures “will do enormous damage to the family farm model of farming”.

McCormack repeated his call for Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to suspend or postpone banding for 2023, in order for a full assessment of all the implications and to allow farmers a reasonable length of time to plan their futures.

“It’s worth remembering that banding was agreed last spring between the European Commission and our Government and, to date, the Department [of Agriculture] has still not written to farmers to explain what it involves and the certain implications for farmers.


“Those implications will be viability-threatening for some farmers who could be facing a 16% reduction in cow numbers in order to remain compliant.

“We now learn, via the usual drip-drip of information, that it is likely that the Department will be writing to farmers next month, in the middle of the calving period, to tell them that they have to reduce by this kind of double-digit number immediately, as in the next day or the next week,” he said.

The ICMSA leader has said that this is “going to be impossible and the Department must know that”.

Running down the clock

Effectively, the Government is running down the clock in what looks like a deliberate tactic designed to present farmers with no options and no room to manoeuvre, he said.

McCormack questioned if there was any other sector of society that the Government would contemplate treating “with such a lack of respect and sheer thoughtlessness”.

“We all know that there isn’t and farmers have every right to feel insulted by this absolute lack of basic consideration,” he said.

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