Farmers are on the point of despair waiting for government supports for rocketing fertiliser prices, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).
The European Commission recently approved a €836 million support scheme for Polish farmers in response to rising fertiliser costs due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The scheme was approved under the state aid temporary crisis framework.
The ICMSA president said that there is a “stark contrast” between the passivity of the Irish government and the action taken by Poland when it comes to the issue of fertiliser.
Pat McCormack outlined that two months had passed since Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue indicated consideration was being given to financially support farmers with the quadrupling of fertiliser costs.
“Has our government prepared any proposals to bring to the commission? Do they intend bringing any similar type of proposal to the commission?
“Or is the plan, as we suspect, to just sit around and let the farmers take the hit for a four-fold increase in fertiliser prices while all our state energy goes into imposing more regulatory burdens and environmental restrictions on the same group of farmers?” McCormack asked.
“I’m not sure that non-farmers completely appreciate the truth of the observation that Ireland’s most important crop is grass. Both our multi-billion dairy and beef sectors depend on that.
“If we don’t have silage then we are in serious trouble in both of those,” the ICMSA president continued.
“We could introduce a subsidy now that would address, in some way, the exorbitant cost of fertiliser, but the government seems unwilling to do that.
“That in turn will lead to a fodder shortage next spring at which time the government will have to introduce a fodder subsidy that could have been avoided if they had subsidised the fertiliser that would have given the farmers the silage.
“I appeal again to the minister to make good on the commitments he seemed to be giving us two months ago to introduce measures that will help with the rocketing costs of fertilisers.
“Not alone is it the right thing to do, but I predict it will end up saving exchequer funding by staving off a more expensive fodder issue next spring,” McCormack concluded.