President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) Pat McCormack has criticised some aspects of the proposed new nitrates regulations, saying they are unnecessarily harsh.
McCormack has said that while some aspects of the new regulations will progress issues, he has said other aspects seem to be directed at dairy, livestock and tillage farmers, who “backbone our food exports and rural economy”.
Some areas McCormack has said will attract just criticism from farmers are the ban on slurry spreading after 15 September and the ban on spreading soil water between 15 November and 15 January.
The reduction in chemical nitrogen allowances, as well as the proposed banding of dairy cows - which will result in farmers with high-yielding dairy cows being penalised - will also attract criticism, he said.
He said that the proposals could result in substantial costs being inflicted on farmers, which could result in some farmers being forced to destock.
McCormack also called for the review of some of these proposals and for recognition to be given to the practical realities of farming in order to avoid negative implications for both farmer incomes and the rural economy.
“We have to lower the presence of nitrates in watercourses and we have to keep the commercial dairy, livestock and tillage sectors going and, specifically, the commercial family farm.
"Those aims are not incompatible; it is very possible to do both. But [the] ICMSA would feel that that requires a balance of consideration and weight that is, we regret to say, not achieved in these regulations.
"These nitrates regulations miss the balance that they have to hit,” he said.
“We all know that overregulation that doesn’t reflect the practicalities of farming just will not work,” he added.
“[The] ICMSA will be making a submission based on practical amendments to the regulations that will ensure water quality is addressed, while ensuring that family farms can continue to farm in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.”