IFA says Varadkar will invite EU Commissioner to Ireland over nitrates cut

Members of the Irish Farmers Association (Brian Lawless/PA)
Members of the Irish Farmers Association (Brian Lawless/PA) Members of the Irish Farmers Association (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Farmers’ Association says it has received assurances from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that he will invite the EU Environment Commissioner to Ireland following a proposed cut to the nitrates derogation limit in the country.

Earlier, a number of farmers protested outside the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in over a range of issues, including the EU cut in Ireland’s nitrates derogation limit and the plan to delay payments to farmers in 2023.

The planned limit is to reduce to 220kg of organic nitrogen per hectare.

Asked about the protest, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t think the dialogue that we’ve had in recent times has really been working, I think that needs to change.

“I’d like there to be a new partnership, the likes of which we have, for example, with the trade union, and the business groups where we sit down and we try and manage change in the interest of farmers, rather than trying to make out these changes aren’t going to happen or they can be stopped when we all know they can’t.”

IFA president Timm Culllinan said the group then held a positive meeting with Mr Varadkar, along with Ministers Simon Coveney and Martin Heydon as well as Colm Markey MEP, on the margins of the event at the Limerick Strand Hotel.

The IFA said the Taoiseach agreed to write to EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius for a meeting in Ireland involving Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue and a delegation from the sector – or for the Commissioner to meet with sector representatives in Brussels.

Mr Cullinan said: “The Taoiseach was clear he understood the massive impact that any cut in the nitrates derogation limit would have on Irish farmers and the wider sector.”