'The commission is allowing us no time': Derogation pushes Cork farmers to protest

The IFA's Cork Central branch has organised a protest starting at 11am in Carrigaline.
'The commission is allowing us no time': Derogation pushes Cork farmers to protest

This protest follows the IFA holding a dairy conference at the Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty on Monday. Picture: Andy Gibson

Farmers will protest in Co Cork on Friday over the upcoming changes to Ireland's nitrates derogation. 

The Irish Farmers' Association's (IFA) Cork Central branch has organised a protest starting at 11am in Carrigaline.

"We'll be proceeding down the main street in Carrigaline," Cork Central IFA chairman Conor O'Leary said.

"We'll have a number of cows with us and we'll be stopping at Simon Coveney's office first, and we'll be stopping at Michael McGrath's office second. We'll be handing in a letter.

"We're going to leave there and go to the Tánaiste's [Micheál Martin] office to do the same."

Commissioner's meeting

Members of the IFA recently attended a meeting with the EU Commissioner for Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius at the Department of Agriculture, an event which failed to bring about any flexibilities to the reduction of the upper limit of the derogation from 250kg of organic nitrogen per hectare to 220kg. 

IFA national environment chairman Paul O’Brien said after the meeting that it is "completely unreasonable to expect farmers to reduce their stocking rate to 220kg by the end of this year" to comply with the January 1 timeline of implementation of the new rules. 

"Farmers made the decision to put their cows in calf last spring before any decision was taken. It is unreasonable and not in line with good animal welfare to now expect farmers to cull these in-calf cows," Mr O'Brien said.

'Allowing us no time'

Conor O'Leary told the Irish Examiner that the commission is "allowing us no time" to become compliant and for farmers "to calve down these cows and then get them out of the system".

"Our ask is that we'll be allowed to calve the cows on our farms and have a logical, planned reduction," Mr O'Leary said, saying this would be the "moral" way to do it.

Farmers are also asking for a "phased-out period", to have 12 months to adjust their farms to the 220kg limit.

Mr O'Leary said that TDs "seem to understand what we're asking" for, however, he feels the European Commission's "diktat" is for farmers to "just suck it up and get there by January 1".

"What we're really concerned about is that it looks like our Government has no say in how Europe is going to regulate us," he added.

IFA poultry chairman Nigel Sweetnam has asked farmers to turn out to the protest on Friday to show "strength" in numbers.

"It's critically important that we send this strong message tomorrow to the Government that farmers have had enough and expect better," Mr Sweetnam said.

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Karen Walsh

Karen Walsh

Law of the Land


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