Pat McCormack President of ICMSA_ - Copy (2)

Coming up on mid-March and still no sign of Dept’s official communication on N farmer banding rates

The President of ICMSA has described as “stunning” the fact that most dairy farmers in the State have yet to receive official notification from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine on what nitrates ‘Band’ they will be in.

Speaking after a recent meeting with officials, Pat McCormack said that the case for delaying the introduction of the banding regulations was fast becoming unanswerable. “We are coming up on mid-March and most of our members have still to receive official notification on what Band they will have to farm within for this year – I repeat, that’s this year.”

Mr. McCormack said that the Department’s schedule on this was always unrealistic but frankly had now become impossible and it would be better for everyone – certainly the thousands of farmers concerned – if the responsible officials just recognised that they are not ready for this regulation and suspended the process till there’s some semblance of a plan.

“Frankly, they have not done the preparations – much less looked at the rollout and the implications of this move. Realistically, at this stage we have two options: the Department can continue with this cack-handed and chaotic Banding proposal, or they can just accept that the groundwork for this has not been done and an absolute shambles will result from them going ahead. They can defer or suspend and give themselves – and the unfortunate farmers – a chance to look at this again and reconsider. Continuing with the present policy is actually ‘doubling-down’ on a move that is already out-of-time and leaving the thousands of farmers concerned out-of-options”, he said.  

The ICMSA President also confirmed that the association has asked DAFM to amend Article 12 in the S.I. 393 to include the wording ‘or’ to specify that a derogation farmer either has to retain one mature whitethorn or blackthorn tree in each hedgerow or maintain hedgerows on a minimum three-year cutting cycle. Mr. McCormack said that the ‘either/or’ distinction must be made because the current draft of S.1 393 document states that a derogation farmer has to complete both. 

“This is obviously a misprint and now that we’ve pointed it out to the Department’s officials, we’d expect them to rectify it and publish a corrected draft that makes the correct distinction. The officials have clarified that derogation farmers within that three-year maintenance cycle can ‘breast’ or trim a hedge behind an electric fence where the hedge is impinging on the fence”, he confirmed.

Ends       6 March 2023

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office