Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Compliance with the Nitrates Directive and Implications for Ireland: Discussion (Resumed)

Mr. Edward Carr:

I thank the Deputy for his question on the impact it would have on the co-operative sector if it went back to 170 kg N/ha. It would have major implications, as I said in my submission. There has been an investment of €1.6 billion in the co-operative sector since the abolition of quotas. The loss of supply - if the threshold went back to 170 kg N/ha, there would be an 18% reduction in the dairy herd - would result in an absolute cost to the local rural economies of €1.7 billion, which is massive. All the co-operatives that have invested - there has been investment in every co-operative - would be inefficient if they lose any of the supply going through these plants. At the end of the day, not only would it culminate in a straightforward loss of €1.7 billion, but there would also be a streamline loss. The survival of all these businesses is based on a cent per litre price. The price paid to the farmer has to surface and pay for the investment and the running of the operation. If there is an 18% reduction in the dairy herd, most of these businesses will not be viable and that would be a major loss to the local economies of these areas.