The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has said that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will have a “serious impact” on Irish and European farmers.

Earlier today (Thursday, February 24), Russia launched a ‘full-scale invasion’ of Ukraine with troops crossing the border and missiles being dropped on cities across the country.

The Taoiseach has joined world leaders in condemning the action. Micheál Martin described Russia’s decision to attack Ukraine as “an outrageous and moral breach of the most fundamental principles of international law”.

The European Union is meeting today to discuss more serious sanctions on Russia, while NATO is due to discuss the developments tomorrow.

Impact on farmers

Speaking to Agriland from Brussels today, IFA president Tim Cullinan said this morning’s developments will have “devastating impacts” on what was already a very serious situation in terms of input costs.

“While these events will have huge and tragic consequences they will also impact further on costs and food production.

“Russia is the fifth largest trade partner with the EU. In 2020, the EU imported €95 billion of produce from Russia. Petroleum was at €67 billion, agriculture raw materials were €4 billion and chemical products were also €4 billion.

“What is very worrying now is that 46% of the EU’s natural gas is imported from Russia. EU agri-food exports into Russia is about €6.8 billion,” the IFA president explained.

“So those are startling figures. This trade is very important and obviously the natural gas is going to have further implications for the fertiliser industry here and the feed industry as well, which already are having a serious impact on the incomes of Irish farmers.

“We just don’t know where this is going to end. But we know certainly, this is going to have a serious impact on Irish and European farmers in the in the weeks ahead,” Cullinan added.

Brussels meeting

The IFA president had travelled to Brussels today for a scheduled meeting with EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on input costs which he described as “constructive”.

Cullinan said that a report is due in the “next week or so” on the investigation into EU anti-dumping tariffs which are applied to fertiliser imported from third countries.

There has been repeated calls for the levies to be reduced or removed in a bid to tackle rising fertiliser costs.

Cullinan meeting with EU Agriculture Commissioner
Image Souce: IFA

Cullinan raised how rising input costs were impacting the pig sector and called for immediate action from the EU Commission.

The IFA president also discussed how measures in the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Farm to Fork strategies and biodiversity measures would impact on Irish farmers.

“Relative to many countries Ireland has a very extensive farming system. This has to be protected. I am very concerned that a lot of policies pursued by the Commission particularly elements of the CAP and the Farm to Fork are not supporting productive farming and will have consequences for food security,” Cullinan stated.