Picture of Cows 27 October 2020 (2)

ICMSA say Nitrates Regulations “miss the balance they have to hit and must be changed”

 The President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, has said that while some aspects of the new Nitrates Regulations are unproblematic and will progress issues, several aspects are “unnecessarily harsh” and seem aimed at that group of dairy, livestock and tillage farmers who “backbone our food exports and rural economy”.


Mr. McCormack cited the areas that will attract legitimate criticism from farmers as including the ban on slurry spreading after 15 September, the ban on spreading soil water between 15th November and 15th January, the reduction in chemical N allowances and the proposed ‘banding’ of dairy cows in a way that will penalise farmers with high yielding dairy cows. He said that these proposals have the potential to inflict substantial costs on farmers and will also mean that some farmers could be forced to destock – with the massively negative implications for farmer incomes and the rural economy that involves. He said that these aspects will have to be reviewed and recognition given to the practical realities of farming.


The ICMSA President said that the nitrates regulations had to start with twin aims – both of which were equally valid and worthy.


“We have to lower the presence of nitrates in watercourses and we have to keep the commercial dairy, livestock and tillage sectors going and, specifically, the commercial family farm.   Those aims are not incompatible; it is very possible to do both. But ICMSA would feel that that requires a balance of consideration and weight that is, we regret to say, not achieved in these regulations. These nitrates regulations miss that balance that they have to hit.”


Mr. McCormack said that farmers already are addressing water quality issues and are committed to the solutions, but Government need to support them in this process.   


“We all know that overregulation that doesn’t reflect the practicalities of farming just will not work. It’s equally clear that aspects of the new Nitrate Regulations are an example of exactly this overregulation and will prove ineffective in exactly the usual way.  ICMSA will be making a Submission based on practical amendments to the regulations that will ensure water quality is addressed while ensuring that family farms can continue to farm in an economically and environmentally sustainable way”, concluded Mr. McCormack.


Ends     10 August 2021

Pat McCormack, 087-7608958

President, ICMSA.


Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office