Following the publication of the draft Nitrates Action Programme (NAP) today, he said the proposed measures will have significant implications for farmers across all sectors.
“The single biggest issue that has not been addressed in the draft plan is the financial implications of the proposed measures and the risk of increasing the financial vulnerability of more farms,” he said.
“Where a measure has financial implications for farmers, grant aid and Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) schemes must be introduced to support their adoption to enable farmers to realise greater environmental standards, which would benefit the entire country.”
Paul O’Brien acknowledged the Government had taken on board many of IFA’s recommendations and partially modified some of the measures.
These included maintaining an October deadline for slurry spreading; removal of the future requirement to cover slurry stores; removal of the requirement that only land within 30km is included in stocking rate calculations; and the postponement of the review of technical tables until the next interim review.
“That is not to underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead for farmers and the investment that will be required to meet the new regulations. It’s vital that programmes like the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) are expanded to support farmers and that the Department improves communication with farmers to support greater compliance,” he said.