The Rural Independent Group, led by Deputy Mattie McGrath, has launched a scathing attack on the government, accusing it of abandoning Ireland’s family dairy farms by failing to secure an extension of the country’s nitrates derogation from the European Commission.
Deputy MacGrath is accusing the government of failing to exert the necessary political pressure on the European Commission to ensure the continuation of Ireland’s current nitrates derogation.
The TD describes the derogation as a lifeline for many farmers enabling those who meet rigorous conditions, such as frequent soil sampling and stricter spreading schedules, to maintain higher stocking rates while preserving the environment. However, the derogation limit will drop from 250kg/ha to 220kg/ha on January 1, 2024, in specific regions. The EU decision comes after it found that water quality in Ireland’s rivers and streams has not improved.
The change leaves affected farmers facing the choice of downsizing their herds, acquiring more land or finding another land owner to take their slurry to meet the new regulation. Deputy McGrath is also accusing the government of acquiescence to the Green Party’s ideology over the interests of farmers.
Tipperary TD Michael Lowry is calling on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture to intervene without delay on the matter. Deputy Lowry questions if the Minister gave a strong enough case to the Commission before the decision which he says has left “farmers furious and disillusioned.” Deputy Lowry says ‘Farming has and always will be the backbone of Ireland.