The Irish Beef & Lamb Association has called on the DAFM to raise the maximum rate of organic nitrogen allowable per hectare in eco-schemes in the next CAP.
Otherwise, the farm group believes that “thousands of farmers will be excluded from availing of CAP payments”.
As a result, the group said these farmers will suffer financial losses on their enterprises.
IBLA said that it has “yet again” made efforts to protect the national herd and prevent any attempt to reduce livestock numbers “significantly” in Ireland.
In a statement, a spokesperson claimed that half of all farmers are being excluded from eco-schemes.
Organic nitrogen rate
They continued: “IBLA has continually questioned Minister McConalogue on his proposal to reduce livestock numbers in his CAP Strategic Plan.”
“IBLA has always disagreed with the 95kg of organic N/ha ceiling that the Minister is proposing to place on farmers, as a qualifying condition under the suite of eco-scheme measures.”
“IBLA believes that the maximum rate of organic nitrogen allowable per hectare must be raised to 130kgs/hectare. The minister has not allowed detailed debate on this proposal.”
“The devil is hidden in the detail, but most farmers are unaware of the small print.”
“Farmers should now pick up the phone to their local representatives and ask them to lobby to have the 95kgN/ha increased to 130kgN/ha,” the group concluded.
Limiting chemical nitrogen use
In November of this year, Minister McConalogue indicated that he proposed limiting chemical nitrogen usage as part of the next CAP.
He said the DAFM is expanding this practice to reward more moderate to intensive farmers who limit their chemical nitrogen use to a lower level based on their stocking rate in the previous calendar year.
Each farmer will be presented with their chemical nitrogen limit in the year of the eco-scheme application based on their stocking rate in the previous year.
The DAFM provided an example to explain this further.
Where a farmer who was stocked at, for example, 100 kgs of organic nitrogen per hectare in 2022 wishes to avail of this eco-scheme practice in 2023, they must ensure they do not apply more than 89 kgs of chemical nitrogen per hectare in 2023.
The minister said this measure would promote low usage of chemical nitrogen.
“To qualify, the farmer must not exceed a certain level of chemical nitrogen (proposed as 73kg per hectare) across their holding in the year of eco-scheme participation,” a DAFM document reads.