Negotiation with farmers vital to achieve fair Nitrates outcome - Mayo IFA

THE government must engage in genuine negotiation with farmers to agree a Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) that achieves its objectives, without placing unnecessary and excessive requirements on farmers.

Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, IFA president Tim Cullinan said the outcome of the current review of the NAP will have significant implications for farmers across all sectors of Irish agriculture.

The IFA fully recognise the important role the NAP plays within the industry.

“The objective of NAP is to protect water quality through the promotion of good farming practice. If there are wider co-benefits to climate and biodiversity, this is welcome. However, the review must not be used by government to legislate for other policy objectives including emission reduction targets that provide minimal benefits to water quality,” he said.

Continued Mr. Cullinan: “Farmers have made significant investments and changes to farming practices since the introduction of the last NAP. The Water Quality in Ireland 2013-2018 report, which was published in 2019, did not capture the impact of the new measures and programmes that were introduced on farms.”

Mayo IFA environment chairman John Ger Davitt, from Parke, Castlebar, said as custodians of the environment, farmers understand their responsibility to comply with regulations to protect and improve water quality.

“They will continue to engage positively with measures that are scientifically proven to improve water quality. However, they will not accept the introduction of excessive regulations that could undermine the viability of the family farm and do little to improve water quality,” he said.