The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D, today (24 July 2019) published the recommendations of the Nitrates Expert Group following a review of the Nitrates Derogation.


Derogation farms are a very important cohort of farmers for the Irish economy and this review has been conducted to ensure that those availing of the Derogation are operating to efficient and effective water quality protection standards at farm level.

Both Ministers have welcomed the recommendations of the review group and will move to bring these into force this Autumn.

Minister Creed said “I very much welcome the recommendations of this review which was conducted to examine further opportunities for derogation farmers to improve efficiencies and continue to reduce their environmental footprint”

Minister Creed also added “given the challenges, I must acknowledge all the submissions received as part of this review and the level of ambition voiced to meet these challenges. This is an important cohort of farmers committed to high levels of efficiency who have an important role to play in protecting our environment. The collaborative approach shown by the EPA, Teagasc, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and my own Department in working together as part of an expert group to review the submissions has resulted in a suite of recommendations that both myself and Minister Murphy welcome”

The derogation allows more intensive farmers to operate at a higher stocking rate than that stipulated in the Nitrates Directive, subject to adherence to stricter rules to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  The derogation will run to the end of 2021 when the fourth programme concludes.

Over 7,000 intensively stocked farmers with 11% of Irish agricultural area and 20% of bovine livestock availed of the derogation in 2018 with a similar number anticipated to avail of the facility in 2019. In addition, a further 5,000 farmers with 13% of bovine livestock exceeded the 170 kg N/ha livestock manure limit but exported slurry, or took other actions to comply with the limit.

Minister Murphy added that “I welcome these new measures to protect water quality through the efficient management of nutrients on farms and the other measures included.  Farming at more intensive stocking rates must be complemented with a high level of water quality protection.  This is especially important now, in light of recent water quality results which show that significant additional effort is required across a range of sectors if the long-term water quality targets set out in the Water Framework Directive are to be achieved.”