The Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland has called on the government to launch a public enquiry into the pricing of fertiliser.

The group has claimed that based on the research of its members, there is no shortage of fertiliser in the country. As a result, it believes there is “no legitimate basis for the extortionate prices being quoted to farmers”.

“This is nothing more than price gouging by the fertiliser distributors and cooperatives,” a spokesperson for the group said.

Independent Farmers outlined that it has been highlighting the upward trajectory in the cost of farm inputs, including a 300% increase in the price of many chemical fertilisers, for over six months.

The group has claimed that fertiliser is being stockpiled in some distribution centres and co-op yards, based on photographs and videos it has been sent by its members.

Independent Farmers has called on Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to initiate a public enquiry into the matter.

“It is our view in Independent Farmers that once the public inquiry is concluded, and the proverbial cat is out of the bag, the Irish government will have no alternative but to nationalise the importation, sale and distribution of fertiliser in Ireland.

“We would not encourage any farmers to borrow money to purchase fertiliser at any price and especially not at the current extortionate rates being quoted by co-ops and distributors,” the spokesperson added.

Elsewhere, the second meeting of the National Fodder and Food Security Committee yesterday (Tuesday, March 22) heard that 28% of drystock farmers have bought no fertiliser to date.

In a survey carried out by Teagasc, 87% of the almost 700 drystock farmers who responded admitted that they plan to spread less on grazing ground.

The meeting also heard that there will be sufficient stocks of fertiliser to cover spring requirements, despite stocks being back by up to 25% compared to last year.

Committee chair, Mike Magan emphasised the need for farmers to grow grass and cut it at the optimum time to produce quality silage this year.

He pointed to the importance of spreading fertiliser and slurry in the coming weeks to maximise grass growth.

Magan stated that the success of the committee would be that all animals in the country are fed and a fodder crisis is avoided.