ICMSA say Minister “cannot hide behind a committee” on Nitrates threat.

The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, has said that Minister McConalogue cannot be allowed to “hide behind a committee” to delay the necessity of going back to the Commission and getting the 220kg requirement dropped. Mr. McCormack said there was a clear onus on the Minister to accept the political and administrative responsibility that went with his position, and to show that he is in earnest and serious about dealing with a most serious problem.

“This issue is far too serious and there’s no time for this buck-passing and wriggling around.  The Minister and his Department created this potential timebomb for family farms and it is up to them to resolve it and remove a requirement that is not backed up by science. In 2022 the Minister and his officials agreed to a measure that will wipe out the Irish family dairy farm system as it exists. To compound that mistake, the measure will have little or no impact on water quality – which was the reason cited for the policy in the first place. ICMSA has been raising this matter with the Minister and his officials for over a year and at the most recent Agriculture Water Quality Group, the Department still could not provide details of their interactions with the EU Commission.  This is ridiculous and farmers should have a right to know what discussions have taken place with the EU Commission and that the Department is treating this matter with the seriousness that it deserves”, said Mr. McCormack.

“We are either going with the science on this or we are not. The 220kg requirement should be dropped given that it is not backed up by science.  The debate in relation to one map or the other is almost a diversionary tactic. The real issue is that the 220kgs proposal will be disastrous for a family farm above this level whether in Wexford or Donegal and it needs to be removed.

If we are serious about supporting farmers in their efforts to improve water quality, we need to put realistic support for farmers. The recently announced water quality EIP, while welcome, will only deliver about €800 per year per farmer and, in this day and age, this is a derisory level of support. Following recent ICMSA meetings with DG Agriculture and DG Environment of the EU Commission, the very clear message was that it was up to the Member States to support their farmers in their efforts and, as of now, the Irish Government is absolutely ‘missing-in-action’ in this respect”, he continued.

Mr. McCormack said that the Irish Government can and must tell the EU Commission that the 220kg requirement is unsound and will not be implemented.

Ends     20 July 2023

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office