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Nitrates: Coughlan says REPS farmers will not need amended planes, but must follow the regulations

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., confirmed today that farmers already in REPS will not need to amend their plans when the new Nitrates Regulations take effect from 1 February. They may, however, need to make adjustments to their farming systems such as storage for animal manure, restrictions on spreading periods and overall fertiliser limits.

"From 1 February the Nitrates Regulations (S. I. No. 788 of 2005) will be the law of the land," Minister Coughlan said, "so obviously they will apply to REPS farmers like everyone else. I want to reassure REPS farmers as a whole that they will not have to go to the trouble of amending their farm plans. Like all farmers, however, REPS farmers should talk to their advisers about the practical steps that must be taken to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations."

The REPS specifications were being amended in line with the Nitrates Regulations, the Minister said, and the new version would be available to planners shortly. She said that her Department, in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, was preparing an explanatory booklet on the Nitrates Regulations which would explain the new rules clearly and simply. This booklet would shortly be sent to all farmers, including REPS farmers.

Minister Coughlan again urged farmers, whether they were in REPS or not, to use organic fertiliser from other farms whenever they could instead of chemical fertiliser. In particular, where the phosphorus index of their soil allows it, they should be ready to take in pig manure. "Farmers will be saving money in this way," she said, "and just as importantly they will be helping other farmers who have more organic fertiliser than they can use on their own land."

16 January, 2006

Date Released: 16 January 2006