In December 2017, Ireland secured a renewal of our nitrates derogation for the period 2018 – 2021 on the basis of strengthened water protection measures. This contrasts with other EU member states which have had severe difficulties in negotiating successful renewals of their derogations.
The achievement of securing the renewal of the derogation is a significant milestone in the context of an expanding dairy herd and increasing milk production. While there are some additional stipulations attached to the derogation, these are the outcome of a year long negotiations with the Commission and two separate public consultations. It was important when seeking the renewal that Ireland demonstrated commitment to tackling agricultural impacts on water.
The measures in Ireland’s derogation take account of the growing numbers of derogation farmers who are farming at intensive stocking rates, and also environmental objectives for water, climate change and ammonia which Ireland must achieve. Furthermore, opportunities for large savings on farms through better grassland management and improved timing and application of fertiliser have been taken into account.
Agriculture is responsible for 98% of ammonia emissions and under the National Emissions Ceiling Directive, Ireland must reduce its ammonia emissions by 5%, by 2030 compared to 2005. Ammonia losses from slurry are significantly reduced by slurry application in the springtime and also by using low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment.
It is now required that 50% of slurry produced on a derogation farm must be applied by 15th June and after that date it may only be applied by LESS equipment. Furthermore derogation farmers must have adequate manure storage for their animals. These new measures will assist farmers to deliver their production targets, reduce their greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions and reduce the risk of runoff to water quality.
In order to help farmers with the purchase of LESS equipment, support is provided under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme known as TAMS II is, subject to the terms and conditions of the Scheme, at a general grant rate of 40% rising to 60% for qualifying Young Farmers. The maximum amount of investment eligible for grant aid under the LESS measure is generally €40,000 per holding. It is also worth noting that the investment ceiling under this measure is, uniquely among all TAMS II measures, not subject to the overall TAMS II investment ceiling of €80,000 per holding.