Charlie McConalogue TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, with (l-r) Pat Shiels, General Manager Dairy Division, Oliver Neville, Board Member and Niall Matthews, Chairman of Lakeland Dairies, at Tullamore Show.
Growing concern highlighted regarding uncertainty surrounding the Nitrates Derogation
The potential impact of reducing the allowable nitrogen per hectare (N/ha) from 250kg to 220kg, as part of the Nitrates Derogation, was outlined to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD by Lakeland Dairies during a discussion at the Tullamore Show.
Ireland has been granted a derogation to exceed the European standard of 170kg N/ha once stringent criteria for enhancing water quality have been met. Approximately 8,000 farmers currently benefit from this Derogation, allowing a limit of 250kg N/ha.
However, a potential reduction in the maximum livestock manure nitrogen per hectare limit to 220kg N/ha from January 2024 is being considered as part of the ongoing mid-term review of Ireland’s derogation.
Lakeland Dairies’ Chairman, Niall Matthews emphasised the potential “serious consequences” of such a move to the Minister.
During a conversation with Minister McConalogue, he highlighted,
"We were pleased to have the Minister visit our stand at the Tullamore Show. While it was great to see numerous farmers and suppliers at the event, there was a sense of growing concern regarding the uncertainty surrounding the Nitrates Derogation.
“Joined by Lakeland Dairies' Head of Food Ingredients, Pat Shiels, and my fellow Board member, Ollie Neville, we clearly outlined the significant impact this could have on our farmers and the regional economy."
"Any reduction of the derogation limit from 250kg N/ha to 220kg N/ha would significantly hamper the productivity of many of our farming families. Our farming community is already displaying excellent leadership in enhancing water quality.
“We recognise the paramount importance of not only maintaining but also elevating our water quality standards. Our involvement in the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) demonstrates our commitment, and we've aided farmers in adopting sustainable practices through the FundEquip scheme."
He further added,
"Extensive efforts have been undertaken to drive sustainability and water quality improvements. Lakeland Dairies will remain at the forefront of championing and spearheading these initiatives. However, substantial changes such as the proposed reduction in the Derogation limit to 220kg N/ha within a few months' time could have serious consequences for Lakeland Dairies farm families."
Matthews concluded by saying,
"We appeal to the Minister and his officials to exert all possible efforts at the European level to safeguard the current Nitrates Derogation for the remainder of its term."