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Intensive Farming Left Out of Nitrates Plan

by 5m Editor
8 June 2010, at 10:31am

IRELAND - The Department of Agriculture is calling on all parties to provide feedback on the proposed Nitrates Action Plan. The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has expressed concerns about its impact on intensive livestock sectors, especially dairy, poultry and pig producers.

A six-week consultation period on the new Nitrates Action Plan is set to be announced by the departments of Agriculture and Environment this week, according to The Independent of Ireland.

All interested parties must lodge their submissions on the updated plan during this time-frame.

The Irish FFA has indicated that more flexibility on calendar farming, lifting the ban on winter ploughing, the extension of interim provisions for the pig and poultry sectors, and higher nitrogen application limits for tillage farmers will form the basis of their submission.

IFA environment chairman, Pat Farrell, said: "It is essential that the nitrates derogation continues, which allows our most intensive dairy and beef farmers to increase the output of the sector in a sustainable way."

He urged Environment Minister, John Gormley, and Agriculture Minister, Brendan Smith, to safeguard the intensive livestock, dairy, pig and poultry sectors in the upcoming review.

He added: "The Government has failed to identify alternatives for the intensive pig and poultry sector and has an obligation to continue the current arrangements for this sector until an alternative is identified."

Under the current regulations, farmers importing slurry from pig and poultry units can ignore the phosphorus content when calculating fertiliser usage under the Nitrates Directive.

A relaxation of the current ban on the spreading of slurry from 15 October to 12, 15 or 31 January (depending on the region of the country) will be sought by the IFA.

The Independent reports that also in the firing line will be the ban on winter ploughing and the requirement for green cover, as well as nitrogen application limits for cereals. The IFA claims these measures are costing tillage farmers up to €60 per hectare.