‘I am very conscious that fertiliser is a major input cost on farms’

The significant cost that farmers face when purchasing fertiliser has been acknowledged by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The minister was responding to a recent parliamentary question from Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue.

Commenting on the matter, Minister Creed said: “I am very conscious that fertiliser is a major input cost on farms. Indeed EUROSTAT estimates that fertiliser is the third most important expenditure item on EU farms, accounting for €19.2 billion of input costs in 2014.

In terms of Irish farms, the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO’s) 2017 ‘Preliminary Estimates of Output, Input and Income in Agriculture’ identifies fertiliser expenditure at €513 million in 2017 – an increase of 0.8% on 2016.

“I have long believed that the elimination of fertiliser tariffs and anti-dumping duties is something that could help farmers reduce their input costs and this is something that I have actively pursued at the Agri Fish Council in 2016 and 2017, both with the commission and in consultation with my council colleagues,” he said.

At the Agri Fish Council in June 2017, the minister explained that he asked the commission to address the “significant overpricing” of fertilisers in the EU brought about by the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports.

Continuing, Minister Creed said: “In that context, in August 2017 the commission gave notice of its intention to conduct a partial interim review of the anti-dumping measures applicable to imports of ammonium nitrate originating in Russia. It is expected that this review will be completed in late 2018.

However, I understand that there may be an interim decision from the commission on the review of the anti-dumping levy shortly. If that is the case, I look forward to the interim decision and my officials will review accordingly.

“I should point out, however, that while Commissioner Hogan acknowledged the desirability of bringing about lower prices, he has also indicated that – despite considerable efforts on his part both with other member states and internally within the commission – consensus will be difficult to achieve,” Minister Creed concluded.