Ministers meet in crucial nitrates action plan talks
Tense talks are set to begin today between Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith and Minister for the Environment John Gormley on what Ireland will include in its new Nitrates Action Plan.
Recommendations from the Government-appointed Nitrates Expert Review Group were finalised yesterday and its report will be presented to the two ministers today, it is understood.
The ministers will assess the recommendations, before deciding what changes to make to the existing Nitrates Action Plan.
However, the pair have just five working days to agree on and prepare a new Nitrates Action Plan, ahead of the critical meeting of the EU Nitrates Committee, which takes place next Tuesday.
The meeting in Brussels is to decide if the 250kg organic nitrogen derogation should be allowed to continue.
Before that deadline, the ministers will have to decide on the Irish derogation for the dairy and livestock sectors, continuation of the phosphorous provision for the pig and poultry sector and increased nitrogen application rates for spring barley.
IFA president John Bryan has warned that a positive outcome in the nitrates review is critical to achieving the ambitious production targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report.
Mr Bryan warned that pig, poultry, dairy, livestock and grain producers would all be affected unless the Government secured a satisfactory outcome to address their fears about the nitrates review.