“While a lot of good work has gone into these reports, the reality is that a lot has changed since these sub groups were established. We have had the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, which has raised real concerns about food security,” he said.
“In addition, the Minister has agreed with the EU Commission to a review of the Nitrates Action Programme in 2023. As part of this, he has conceded that the upper limit on the derogation may be reduced to 220kgs of organic nitrogen from its current limit of 250kgs. He conceded this without any consultation whatsoever with IFA,” he said.
“This, along with other aspects of the Nitrates Action Programme, could have a significant impact on cattle numbers and farmers’ incomes. It will also have unintended consequences in the land market and impact every sector including tillage,” he said.
Tim Cullinan said we need to see a full economic impact assessment of these changes before proceeding with any further measures that could impact production.
“Many aspects of the new CAP will also reduce production and yet we have proposed measures in the dairy and interim beef report to curtail nitrogen use and proposals to explore an exit/reduction scheme,” he said.
“The proposed nitrogen cuts in the reports are too high. There is no indication from the Minister as to what he actually has in mind for an exit/reduction/diversification scheme and there are no proposals to deal with generational renewal,” he said.
“There is little or no reference to any funding for any of these initiatives. The Minister must address this.” he said.
Finally, it is clear that there must be coherence between the dairy report and beef report which is only at interim stage. “We acknowledge that a lot of good work has gone into developing these proposals. The majority of what is proposed is sensible and could help to achieve our emissions targets. However, the Minister needs to come to the table now to deal with the outstanding issues,” he said.