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Job Losses Feared from Change in Nitrates Directive

16 August 2010

IRELAND - The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has warned of job losses in the poultry and pig sectors if the EU Nitrates Directive is changed.

The future of 14,000 jobs in the pig, poultry and processing sectors are dependent on there being no change in the Nitrates directive which strictly limits the amounts of fertilizers that can be spread on land, the IFA says.

Irish Times reports that the organisation's regional vice-president, John Waters, told a public meeting in Cavan the security of the future of the sector depended on an extension of current rules by Minister for Agriculture, Brendan Smith.

Mr Waters said: "These sectors employ over 14,000 people between primary production, processing and associated industries.

"If the current arrangements are not continued, jobs will be lost and Government targets for 50 per cent growth in output under Food Harvest 2020 will be meaningless."

Cavan IFA pigs committee representative, Michael Caffrey, of Mountnugent, expressed the anger and frustration of producers who fear being wiped out if they are forced to transport slurry over long distances.

Mr Caffrey said: "The failure to roll over the current arrangements would add €30 million per year in haulage costs to the pig and poultry sectors, and producers in this region will go to the wall.

"The Minister can say goodbye to thousands of jobs on his own doorstep, and any talk of expansion from the Government would be a joke."

IFA national poultry chairman, Alo Mohan, of Redhills, said more than half of the poultry industry was concentrated in Cavan-Monaghan, and producer margins simply could not sustain any additional costs.

Fine Gael spokesman on agriculture, Andrew Doyle, repeated his call on Mr Smith to establish pilot anaerobic digestion sites to deal with pig and poultry slurry.

Irish Times reports that he said there was nowhere more suitable for the location of these sites than in his own constituency of Cavan, an area with a large number of pig and poultry units and soil types that present a challenge with regard to nutrient management.

Mr Doyle explained: "As regards funding for these pilot projects, we have seen this Government impose extra 'green taxes', which are supposed to be revenue-neutral, with all proceeds used to initiate a host of energy-saving schemes.

"The carbon tax which applies to all petrol and diesel, including farm diesel, is a major revenue source that could and should be used for a scheme like the one I suggest, which can turn a major cost and viability problem into an income source with the added benefit of generating renewable energy," he said.

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