News | March 22, 2023

Minister McConalogue Announces Nitrates Banding Options For Dairy Farmers

  • Dairy farmers to confirm their 2023 N excretion rates under new ‘Banding’ Rules
  • Addition of a further option for dairy farmers in determining the average production per cow on the farm

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, has announced that Dairy farmers can now submit information to confirm the nitrogen excretion band for their dairy cows in 2023. In addition, the Minister confirmed three options are available to farmers in determining their average for 2023.

Minister McConalogue said:
“I am conscious that the introduction of banding is a new and significant additional requirement for dairy farmers. This requirement was, however, a necessary part of securing our Nitrates Action Programme and Nitrates Derogation at EU level. I have been keen to make this introduction as flexible as possible and can confirm three options for the 2023 year.”

A farmer has three options to determine their herd’s average milk yield to confirm their 2023 band:

  1. Select the rolling average for the three preceding years (2020, 2021, 2022), or
  2. Select the most recent preceding year (2022), or
  3. Select to use the herd’s 2023 average milk yield (available for 2023 only)

Dairy farmers can now use the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) website to confirm which option they wish to select for 2023 and their associated band. The ICBF portal is open to all dairy farmers.

The Minister continued by saying:
“I encourage all dairy farmers, and where necessary their advisors, to engage as soon as possible with the ICBF portal. This will allow them to confirm their 2023 banding category and plan to manage their farm accordingly to ensure compliance with the Nitrates Regulations, including where appropriate the stocking rate limits set under the Nitrates Derogation.”

A small number of dairy farmers have not consented to their milk purchaser sharing their data with ICBF. They will need to request their milk purchaser to complete a Milk purchaser statement and provide supporting information to the department so their herd’s excretion rate band can be confirmed.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is currently writing to all dairy farmers regarding banding. They are being requested to submit information to confirm the 2023 excretion rate band for their herd by 16 March 2023.

The Minister concluded by stating:
“Protecting and improving Ireland’s water quality is critical to our industry’s ambition, and to maintaining Ireland’s Nitrates Derogation into the future. I am also conscious of working with farmers to facilitate this change in as practical a way as possible and have worked with my colleague, Minister Darragh O’Brien to deliver this.”