Irish dairy farmers will soon be allowed to spread less manure on pasture

The European Commission has informed Ireland that the derogation for spreading manure on land will not be extended again. Brussels had previously reported the withdrawal of this extension after it became apparent that nitrate pollution in soil and surface waters has not yet been sufficiently reduced.

Ireland's current derogation expires on 1 January 2026, with the derogation limit in certain areas set to be reduced from 250 kg/ha on 1 January 2024 to 220 kg/ha. So that will come into effect in a few months. Irish LNV Minister Charlie McConalogue has – like his German and Dutch counterparts – tried in vain to achieve some sort of 'transition year' in Brussels.

According to Minister McConalogue, Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius has confirmed that there is “no prospect” of the reopening of the commission's current decision. “The Commissioner made it clear that Ireland is one of only three remaining Member States with a derogation, while emphasizing that there is no prospect of a review of the current decision.”

The news means that thousands of Irish dairy farmers will be forced to reduce their herds or purchase additional pasture within the next four months to comply with the new EU rules.

Earlier this year, the Irish government already submitted a package of proposals for consultation on how Ireland can reduce its livestock herd in the coming years. A decision on this must also be made within a few weeks.