Farmers in Ireland are facing a significant challenge as they lack access to the latest nitrates (N) and phosphorous (P) data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA). Denis Drennan, the deputy president of the ICMSA, has criticized the department for not publishing the most up-to-date figures on farmer N and P use, describing it as “an astonishing omission.” In previous years, farmers could check this information online in early July and at regular intervals thereafter, enabling them to adjust their stocking rate accordingly. However, the absence of this data now leaves them “flying blind” and lacking crucial information.
This lack of knowledge is a serious concern, according to Drennan. Farmers need to be aware of their general “room to manoeuvre” as well as specific issues related to Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes (TAMS). This year, with the introduction of cow banding and the derogations situation, the department’s failure to inform individual farmers of their standing in relation to the limits is causing chaos. Drennan describes this as “absolutely chaotic and inexcusable.” He emphasizes that in 2021, farmers had eight opportunities to check their N and P usage, but so far this year, they have had none.
Drennan, as the deputy president of ICMSA, is calling on the DAFM to immediately publish the most up-to-date figures and provide regular updates and checks. He highlights that farmers are being asked to comply with a speed limit without being given a speedometer. The department must allocate resources promptly to ensure that relevant data is made available to the farmers concerned.
This issue is of great importance to farmers who rely on accurate information to make informed decisions about their farming practices. Without access to the latest N and P data, they are unable to effectively manage their stocking rates and comply with regulations. The ICMSA’s call for immediate action from the DAFM is a reflection of the urgent need for transparency and support for farmers in Ireland.
The DAFM must recognize the significance of this issue and take swift action to rectify the situation. Farmers play a vital role in the Irish agricultural sector, and their ability to make informed decisions is crucial for the industry’s sustainability and success. By providing the necessary data and ensuring regular updates, the department can support farmers in their efforts to meet environmental targets and enhance the overall efficiency and productivity of Irish agriculture.