Imbalance in fertiliser market is costing Irish farmers



The current imbalance in the fertiliser market across Europe is placing an increasing burden of costs on Irish farmers, according to East Galway TD Paul Connaughton, who has called on EU Agriculture Minister Phil Hogan to investigate and address this imbalance.


            ‘Rising oil prices were often cited as a factor in increased fertiliser prices, but now that oil prices are falling rapidly, we see no such fall in fertiliser prices and in fact the rising cost of fertiliser in 2015 is of huge concern to farmers. It is a particular source of worry for beef and dairy farmers given the price volatility they are experiencing and their high fertiliser costs.


            ‘Having spoken to a number of people in the fertiliser locally, nationally and internationally, there are many factors behind the current price increases. While oil is a factor in production costs and transportation costs, a number of other factors are at play behind this price increase.


            ‘With no manufacturer of fertiliser in Ireland or the UK, all of the fertiliser used on fields in the west of Ireland has to be imported from continental Europe. A fire destroyed a fertiliser plant in Belgium last year and this factory has never re-opened, further reducing competition in the European market. Increasingly, fertiliser for Ireland has to be sourced from the further reaches of Eastern Europe and this negates the reduction in transport costs from falling oil prices.


            ‘Such plants in Eastern Europe are heavily reliant on gas and there are issues with the supply of gas to Eastern Europe and political tensions between Europe and Russia are not helping the situation.


            ‘All of the above factors have coalesced to make the European fertiliser market much less competitive. Irish retailers are paying more to import the product and Irish farmers are paying the price when they go to their local co-op or supplier.


            ‘I have written to EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan asking that the current imbalance in the fertiliser market be investigated and addressed as it is an increasing problems for farmers in Europe and in particular in the western reaches of Europe and is a particularly acute problem for farmers in the West of Ireland.


            ‘This imbalance has to be addressed to ensure the viability of food production and a correction is necessary if Ireland is to meet its targets in terms of food production in 2020 and beyond. Farmers in the west of Ireland cannot pay for an imbalance in the EU market and I believe that this is a problem that must be addressed at EU level.’