Farm Ireland

Friday 18 January 2019

Nitrates Derogation secured - what it means for farmers

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Department of Agriculture has announced that it has secured a Nitrates Derogation from the European Commission.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy made the announcement today that Ireland has been formally granted a ‘derogation’ under the Nitrates Directive following the receipt of legal approval from the EU Commission.

The derogation is a renewal of the current derogation for a further four years and has been described by Minister Creed as " great news for Ireland’s farmers as it allows them to plan ahead with certainty over the medium term. All farmers have an important role to play in protecting our environment particularly those farming intensively."

This formal legal approval follows December’s positive vote at a meeting of the EU Nitrates Management Committee in Brussels and the signing, by Minister Murphy, of the new Nitrates Regulations on December 20, 2017 giving effect to Ireland’s fourth Nitrates Action Programme.

Minister Murphy also commented that farmers must be aware of the increased level of commitment to water quality that is required of them when they apply to farm at more intensive stocking rates especially in light of recent water quality results which show that significant additional effort is required across a range of sectors if the long-term water quality targets set out in the Water Framework Directive are to be achieved.

The derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the Directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. 

The derogation will run to the end of 2021 when the fourth programme concludes.

Minister Creed also announced the opening of the 2018 on-line application facility and advised more intensively stocked farmers to engage early with this application process and discuss the need for a derogation with their agricultural advisor.

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Over 7,000 intensively stocked farmers availed of the derogation in 2017 with a similar number anticipated to avail of the facility in 2018.

The closing date for applications is 20 April 2018 and farmers who applied for a derogation in 2017 are reminded that they must submit fertiliser accounts by 20 April 2018 also.

End of year Nitrogen and Phosphorus statements (N&P statements) for 2017 are available on the Department’s online system Farmers who exceeded the limits in 2017 based on their cattle numbers will be advised in writing of this shortly but these figures will not have taken into consideration any documentation submitted to the Department by 31 December 2017.

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