Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue is being called on to incentivise farmers to buy organic fertiliser rather than chemical fertilisers, for which the costs are spiraling upwards.
Independent TD Carol Nolan has asked the minister to “clarify the progress” his department is making in “assisting farmers to reduce costs” of chemical fertilisers.
The Laois-Offaly TD was speaking after receiving a response from the minister to a parliamentary question, in which Nolan asked if there are supports available to farmers to purchase organic fertilisers or fertiliser pellets “that are biologically composted and 100% organic”.
In his response, the minister said: “There are currently no supports available for the use of fertiliser”.
However, the minister acknowledged that “the use of organic fertilisers in 2022 will be particularly cost effective for farmers in light of the current price of chemical fertilisers“.
Reacting to Minister McConalogue’s response, Nolan said: “I am aware that [he] is taking steps to address this problem through the pilot Soil Sampling Programme, and that is something I would actually commend him for as it will help to develop a more reduced and cost-effective use of chemical fertilisers in the long term.
“But in the immediate term we are still left with the prospect, and this has been well-flagged by Teagasc and others, that the cost of fertiliser may rise by over 100% in 2022,” she added.
“That kind of multiplication will drive low-income farmers who are already operating on razor tight margins to the brink.
“I would therefore urge Minister McConalogue to reconsider both the total absence of supports for the direct purchase of cheaper organic fertiliser, and to increase the supports that already exist through TAMS [Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme] for the purchase of low-emission slurry spreading [LESS] equipment and GPS enabled fertilizer spreaders,” Nolan said.
“The minister has already accepted in his reply to me that the use of organic fertilisers in 2022 will be particularly cost effective for farmers in light of the current price of chemical fertilisers. So, it only makes sense that he would take steps to incentivise the use of organic fertilisers through whatever mechanism or scheme that he would deem most appropriate,” the TD concluded.