Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Nitrates Action Programme: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Paul DalyPaul Daly (Fianna Fail)
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I thank the Minister. I welcome Mr. Nolan and thank him for being here.

On the previous occasion the Minister was in here, I raised two points. I will not quote the Minister on anyone else's points which were raised on the day. No doubt the members will bring it up.

On slurry spreading and wastewater storage, nitrates action plans aside, like never before farmers will want to get the maximum value from their slurry in the coming year with the projected prices and, indeed, availability of chemical fertilisers. To maximise that and to meet the targets and the calendar windows of spreading, many will probably need to extend their storage capacity. With current building prices and building material prices escalating, would it be possible, in conjunction with this plan, to have another look at the targeted agriculture modernisation scheme, TAMS, and the ceilings and the percentages of costs that can be covered? For example, let it be 60:40. The 40% of an exorbitant price is a much bigger spend on the farmer's part than it would have been in the past. The farmers will more than meet the Minister halfway on this one now because they all will be glad to be able to provide facilities to store their slurry until the growth comes in, depending on what part of the country one is in, whatever month that is. The Chairman could probably be putting it out in February but up my end of the woods, one would be nearer to May before one would be getting any value for it.

The other issue I raised on the last occasion, to reiterate it, is the 30 km rule. I can see why that would be considered when we are talking about derogation farmers renting land to keep their stocking rate down or whatever. However, if that rule were to be followed through on, for instance, where I am from, around Westmeath and Meath, in particular, we have a lot of people from Deputy Fitzmaurice's area in the west of Ireland who would come up and rent bits of land to do a bit of finishing. They would still have very low stocking rates - they would not be anything near derogation - but if that 30 km is across the board, it would seriously affect them going forward. Those were the two points I raised on the previous occasion that I want to repeat.