Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 06 February, 2007
Written Answers. - EU Directives.
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the steps she is taking to address the burden placed on farmers by the Nitrates Directive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3560/07]
Mary Coughlan Mary Coughlan
 Mary Coughlan: The implementation of the Nitrates Directive is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. A number of measures to help farmers meet their obligations under the Regulations are already in place. In accordance with the Sustaining Progress agreement, improvements to the Farm Waste Management Scheme and the Dairy Hygiene Scheme and substantially increased REPS payments were delivered in 2004. In March 2006 I announced further significant improvements in the Farm Waste Management Scheme, designed specifically to assist farmers meet the requirements of the Nitrates Directive. Following on the Towards 2016 agreement, and subject to the approval of the European Commission, I am making proposals in the new Rural Development Programme, specifically in the context of REPS, that will help farmers further.
With the support of Teagasc and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, I secured the agreement of the EU Nitrates Committee to a derogation which will be available to grassland farms on an individual basis and will allow farmers to operate at a level of up to 250 kg organic nitrogen per hectare. This is a very significant development for intensive farmers, particularly those in the dairying sector. Under the new Rural Development Programme I am also proposing that farmers availing of this derogation should have access, for the first time, to REPS.
My Department is also committed to giving farmers practical help where possible and to keep the burden of paper-work to a minimum. To assist farmers in complying with their obligations on record keeping, where possible my Department will utilize the information at its disposal to provide organic nitrogen and phosphorus statements to farmers in respect of each calendar year. Statements in respect of 2005 were issued for farmers’ information in October last and statements for 2006 are being prepared and will issue as early as possible. As regards record keeping generally, records that are already being kept for other purposes and meet the requirements of the Regulations are acceptable; and most of the information needed is already on the Single Payment Scheme Application form, stock registers and CMMS profiles. There are some additional records that must be kept, and examples of how to keep these are contained in the Explanatory Handbook that was issued to all farmers in November, 2006.
In addition, my officials and Teagasc staff held a series of 36 information meetings throughout the country last November and December. At these meetings, farmers were given information to help them understand the practical aspects of the Regulations and had an opportunity to ask  questions about any particular concerns they might have.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. EU Directives.