The IFA has confirmed that Jacob Hansen, the Director General of Fertilizers Europe, has been included in the panel of speakers to address the organisation’s upcoming fertiliser conference.

The event will take place on Thursday, April 30. The other speakers are: Maximo Torero, International Food Policy Research Institute; Nikolay Mizulin, Partner Mayer Brown; and Max Schulman, Chairman Copa-Cogeca Cereals Working Group.

IFA President Eddie Downey believes the conference will allow the identification of mechanisms to open up competition within the fertiliser manufacturing and supply sectors.

“The ongoing consolidation of the world’s fertiliser industry, and increasing market concentration among fewer players, is resulting in higher farm gate prices,” he said.

“Changes to EU regulations are needed to address market concentration and the unbalanced power held by a small number of multinational input suppliers. The Government and agri-food industry must engage with the EU Commission to tackle the major cartels controlling, in particular, the supply and price of fertiliser. The EU’s DG Competition must examine why there is a disparity on fertiliser pricing.”

Downey pointed out that since 2005, total expenditure by Irish farmers on inputs has increased in excess of 50%, from €3.7 billion to €5.7 billion, representing over 70% of the farm-gate value of output produced.

““Fertiliser, as the second biggest expenditure on farms, has seen prices increase by over 75% during the same period – to over €600m in 2014. Meanwhile, farm incomes over the same period have fallen by more than 20%,” he said.

“Ammonia used to produce urea and nitrates is particularly energy dependent and natural gas accounts for over 75% of ammonia production costs. Despite a 30% plus fall in the average wholesale gas price for 2014, European nitrogen manufacturers increased wholesale CAN and urea prices by 5% to 10%.”

The conference will take place in the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Portlaoise, commencing at 4.30pm.