Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

IFA demands immediate nitrates discussion as debate remains secret

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Frustrated IFA officials have sought an urgent meeting with the Department of Agriculture in an effort to extract information on the nitrates negotiations.

Talks between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Environment and officials in Brussels have been cloaked in secrecy for the past few weeks.

Pat Farrell, the IFA's environment chairman, has blasted the tight-lipped approach of the Department of Agriculture, describing it as "entirely unacceptable" that Brendan Smith had not issued any statement outlining the recommendations of the Government-appointed Nitrates Review Group.

The current negotiations are expected to finish by the next meeting of the Nitrates Action Committee in Brussels, which has been scheduled for the end of next month.

However, officials from the agriculture and environment departments have refused to provide any further details on the issue.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture would only say that discussions were ongoing and negotiations were expected to be finalised in late November.


Officials in Minister John Gormley's Environment department were also reticent on the subject.

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"The discussions are ongoing, progress is being made," a spokesperson said.

"The EU Commission has emphasised that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, so we cannot get into detail at this time."

Mr Farrell is expected to press Mr Smith to clearly state his commitment to continuing the phosphorous provision for the pigs and poultry sector, and to address the problem of nitrogen and phosphorous deficiencies on cereal crops and grassland.

"Farmers are now expecting that Mr Smith will deliver each one of the 21 recommendations contained in the Teagasc submission, which is based on solid scientific research," Mr Farrell said.

He warned that pigs, poultry, dairy, livestock and grain producers would all be impacted negatively unless the Government secured a satisfactory outcome to address farmer concerns.

Irish Independent