Implementation of the EU Nitrates Directive in the Republic of Ireland — A view from the farm
This paper employs Q methodology to investigate farmer opinions on the operation of the EU Nitrates Directive regulations after the first 4years of National Action Programme phase and explores the level of acceptance and refutation of measures from the view of farmers' own knowledge and experience of land stewardship. Results indicate 4 main opinion groups. A “Constrained Productionists” group remains unconvinced about the appropriateness of certain measures from a farm management, environmental and water quality perspective. A second group, “Concerned Practitioners”, shares some of these concerns but are generally more positive regarding other farm management and environmental benefits accruing from the regulations. A third group, “Benefit Accepters”, indicates quite an environmentalist position and is generally very positive towards regulation implementation and associated environmental and farm management benefits. The final group, “Regulation Unaffected”, has some concerns but are mostly unaffected by the regulations. Results suggest that there is a growing acceptance among some farmers of environmental benefits accruing from the regulation but scepticism remains around the validity of certain measures, especially, in the area of temporal farm practices.
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