Speaking today (Saturday 22nd January), from his Cork South-West constituency, Deputy Collins, who is a member of the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture Committee, stated:
“Irish Farmers are experiencing a nightmare situation with input costs, as fertiliser prices have hit record levels in the last several months, with all three groups of nutrients — potash, phosphate and nitrogen — more than doubling and even tripling in some cases.”
“Average fertiliser prices a year ago were high at a costly €300 per tonne. Today, prices have skyrocketed with CAN fertilisers costing Irish farmers more than €600 per tonne and Urea more than €900 per tonne.”
“Consequently, for a typical mid-sized farmer feeding 120 tons of rations and using 30 tons of fertiliser per year, the rise in input costs will add €23,400 of additional costs.”
“Fertiliser is a critical element for food security, sustainability and animal welfare in Ireland. Therefore, while the cost crisis is not sustainable for farmers, its consequences are also being felt by consumers through record food inflation.”
“The main driver of increased fertiliser costs in the EU is record natural gas prices, due to the government’s agenda to decarbonise electricity generation through overzealous and half-baked green policies. EU policy to protect the continent’s fertiliser producers. by imposing import levies on fertilisers, is also having an impact.”
“This week, during deliberations at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee meeting, I challenged Mr. Fabien Santini of the EU Commission (Agriculture) on the origins and response to this crisis.”
“From Mr Santini’s reply, we gleaned that each Member State government has been given the latitude to provide unique farmer support through relaxations of the state-aid framework. This mechanism is currently only available until June 2022 and would allow for direct financial aid.”
“It is, therefore, extraordinary that our government has so far failed to use this tool to assist our burdened farmers to mitigate the higher global prices for farm inputs. In fact, it is shameful that our Agriculture Minister has completely failed to take action, despite this situation’s gravity and the options available.”
“Shamefully, at the same meeting, Green party TD Brian Leddin, emphatically expressed how skyrocketing fertiliser prices were a great thing, claiming they were an indirect way to force crippling farmers to go organic. Such deranged thinking is detrimental to our food security and highly destructive to farmers. This anti-farmer sentiment at the heart of government is extremely disconcerting.”
“The government can no longer evade this crucial issue simply to keep the Green Party happy, as doing so will serve to destroy Irish family farms. An urgent intervention to prevent farmers from augmenting more debt or going out of business is now overdue.”
“Furthermore, any subsidies provided must correspond to the rise in import prices, to save family farm livelihoods. After all, protecting farm incomes and livelihoods remains one of the primary objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
“Vitally, we believe that special farmer subsidies are needed to stem the consequences of increased fertiliser costs, grow crops, feed animals and keep consumer food prices down.”
“Government intervention must be swiftly delivered as our family farmers have absolutely no control over these gigantic price hikes,” concluded Deputy Collins.