The rising input costs and the impact this will have on agricultural markets was brought up yesterday (Monday, November 15) in a meeting of agriculture ministers in the Council of the EU.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue was one of those ministers who voiced such concerns, saying that the increasing costs, particularly of fertiliser, will impact a number of sectors.

“I am concerned about the negative developments in the fertiliser market and the rising costs of other inputs. Producers are facing significant input price increases in fuel, fertiliser, feeds and energy, which will put margins under pressure if they are sustained over time,” the minister highlighted.

“We need to examine all relevant factors, including the issue of anti-dumping duties on fertilisers.”

Trade on agricultural markets was also a feature of the discussion, as well as the forthcoming World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference, which is due to take place in Switzerland from November 30 to December 3.

“I would urge the European Commission to be cautious on proposals for future work programmes in relation to domestic support. Our hard-won CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reforms cannot be undermined,” the minister argued.

On the EU Forestry Strategy to 2030, which the council adopted conclusions on yesterday, Minister McConalogue said that Ireland has “now begun preparation of its own new National Forest Strategy”.

However, other ministers expressed doubt about the value of developing national strategic plans for forestry, instead calling for the use of existing international monitoring and reporting processes.

The official council conclusions on the market situations were that, while the EU’s agri-food sector was performing well on the whole, member states were concerned over a number of issues, particularly the impact on agriculture of rising energy, input costs and feed costs.

For some member states, the pigmeat sector was of paramount concern, with the delegation from Lithuania taking to the floor on behalf of 14 member states requesting “urgent” exceptional EU support measures for that sector.

Other topics discussed yesterday included the impact of weather conditions; veterinary diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) and avian influenza (bird flu); and potential disruptions to trade relations with non-EU countries.