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The Department of Agriculture has established a consultative committee to oversee the implementation of the new fertiliser sales register.

The purpose of the new register is as follows:

  1. Facilitate ease of checks and timely farmer payments under the proposed Eco-Scheme actions relating to fertiliser nitrogen/lime use.
  2. To meet Ireland’s commitments to the European Commission arising from the recent review of Ireland’s Nitrates Action Programme and the extension of the Nitrates Derogation.
  3. To provide reliable data that can be used by voluntary industry sustainability/quality assurance initiatives to reward farmer actions.

DAFM want to establish a national fertiliser database, recording all economic operators in the sector, and all products on the market. They intend to introduce an amendment to the 1955 Fertiliser Act, to be completed by Q4 2022, with the register to be in operation for the start of 2023.

It is expected that farmers will have to record opening stocks in their yards at January 2023, and annually (if the volume carried over is of significance).

ICOS participated in the consultative committee and raised the issue of the absolute necessity to have a level playing field; co-ops can’t lose business to unregulated entities or product entering the State. This is very significant, as product from Northern Ireland won’t be tracked in any way, at least in the near future.  ICOS also pointed out that the DAFM will need to take on board lessons from the establishment of the new national veterinary prescribing system and also take account of real-life scenarios of farmers in relation to purchasing of farm inputs and complexities at farm and co-op level.

In terms of next steps, DAFM will set up an IT steering Group involving individual co-ops, which will meet in early May, and very frequently after that. The consultative group will meet as required, possibly 3 to 4 times between now and 1st January 2023.

Eamonn Farrell – Agri Food Policy Executive