13 Oct 2021, 13.45

The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine will meet today, Wednesday, 13 October at 5:30 pm to resume debate, in two sessions, on the Nitrates Directive and water quality monitoring with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nitrates Directive and Ireland's Action Programme with officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The meeting will be broadcast from Committee Room 3 of Leinster House.

The Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC) has been in place since 1991. It aims to protect water quality from pollution by agricultural sources and to promote the use of good farming practice. All EU Member States are required to prepare National Nitrates Action Programmes (NAP) that outline the rules for the management and application of livestock manures and other fertilisers.

Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme is designed to prevent pollution of surface waters and ground water from agricultural sources and to protect and improve water quality. Ireland’s fourth NAP came into operation in 2017 and will be reviewed in 2021.

Each Member State’s NAP must include:

  • a limit on the amount of livestock manure applied to the land each year
  • set periods when land spreading is prohibited due to risk
  • set capacity levels for the storage of livestock manure

Member States are also required to review their NAP at least every four years. Ireland’s current Action Programme will be reviewed during 2021.

Cathaoirleach, Jackie Cahill TD, explained: “The Committee welcomes the opportunity to discuss the Nitrates Directive and water quality with the EPA at today’s meeting. It is important that the relevant agencies, the Agriculture Sector and farmers work together to ensure that our water systems, lakes, rivers and estuaries are in good condition and that everyone works to curb the human impact as much as possible.”

The Cathaoirleach added: “The Committee and I are very supportive of the fundamental principle of the Nitrates Action Programme – which is to reduce the environmental impact on surface and groundwater by the farming industry.

But to reiterate our previous concerns, short-sighted policy changes may have long-term effects on our agriculture sector and farming industry – there is a need for long-sighted solutions. There is still concerns about the impact on farm incomes and the extent to which farmers will be financially supported to implement the new measures.

We look forward to meeting the Departments today to discuss these and the important policy changes.”

The Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has 14 Members, nine from the Dáil and five from the Seanad.

You can view the meeting in Committee Room 3 on the Oireachtas website.

More information can be found on the dedicated Committee Webpage. Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

Media enquiries

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Twitter: @OireachtasNews

Committee membership


Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil

Sinn Féin


Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Green Party

Fine Gael



Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil