Call for inquiry into fertiliser industry over rising prices

Prices escalate while costs of gas used in production have fallen, conference told

“Unless escalating input costs such as fertiliser are effectively addressed at EU level and elsewhere, the ability of farm families to continue to produce an affordable food supply for the expanding world population will be compromised,” Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey said. File photograph:  Sandra Mu/Getty Images

“Unless escalating input costs such as fertiliser are effectively addressed at EU level and elsewhere, the ability of farm families to continue to produce an affordable food supply for the expanding world population will be compromised,” Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey said. File photograph: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

 

Farmers have urged the European Commission to begin an inquiry into the fertiliser industry due to rising prices.

Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey said the commission must suspend import tariffs while the inquiry is under way.

He said increasing market concentration among the world’s major fertiliser manufacturers had resulted in escalating fertiliser prices, and this was undermining the competitiveness of agricultural production.

“Unless escalating input costs such as fertiliser are effectively addressed at EU level and elsewhere, the ability of farm families to continue to produce an affordable food supply for the expanding world population will be compromised.”

Mr Downey was speaking at the IFA’s international fertiliser conference in Co Laois.

He said fertiliser prices had increased by two thirds since 2005, while farm incomes had fallen.

“Over the last year there has been a 30 per cent-plus reduction in gas prices, which is the main input in the manufacture of nitrogen products,” he said.

Meanwhile, the main manufacturers had increased the price of fertiliser by up to 10 per cent this season.

“Given the low income levels in farming, the EU Commission must examine why lower production costs have not been reflected in farm gate fertiliser price,” Mr Downey said.

“It is critical that any activities which potentially breach competition are investigated immediately, as high fertiliser prices impact directly on farmers’ incomes and food prices.”