The combination of changes to the nitrates derogation and the Food Vision dairy group are “the dream tag team” from the Department of Agriculture’s point of view, according to Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) national dairy committee chair Stephen Arthur.

He told farmers at a west Cork IFA meeting in Skibbereen Mart on Wednesday evening that changes to the nitrates derogation are going to “hammer” farmers.

“Speaking in west Cork, it’s going to destroy farming here, especially the smaller farmers.

“The other side of it is the greenhouse gases - we’re trying to cram in 20 years [of] policy into five years, and it cannot work,” he said.

Arthur said he felt both Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) and Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) haven’t been vocal enough in supporting farmers on the Food Vision dairy group.


“We need them to come out and support the farmers on this. Their voice has to be heard.

"I’d expect them to be jumping out of their seats. The idea of the retirement scheme being privately funded, we want that knocked on the head.

“They [DII and ICOS] have to be adamant in refusing this unless it comes from the public purse.

We need their voice to be heard

"Any funding that’s going to fund reduction schemes has to come from the public purse. I would like to hear them louder in the room. We need their voice to be heard."

The issue that farming doesn’t always get a fair portrayal in the media was also raised.

“Are there any others within agriculture other than the farm representative bodies that can bring their expertise?

"We’re ending up with farmers debating against professors on television and radio, where are all the agricultural experts during all this?"

He added that he was disappointed that the Agricultural Science Association (ASA), which was “full of knowledge talking about the cow herd” this week, hadn’t been heard from during the debate in the lead-up to the 25% emissions reduction target for the sector being set.