The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said rising fertiliser costs, associated with the unprecedented surge in natural gas price in Europe, are set to “batter” the tillage sector and supports will have to be directed their way.

ICSA tillage chair, Gavin Carberry said: “From fuel to fertiliser, all our costs have gone up substantially. There is also no indication at present that these costs won’t spiral further out of control.

“The availability and cost of fertiliser in particular is a real worry.

“As tillage farmers, we just don’t know if we’ll be able to get our hands on what we need for next spring, and what extortionate price we’re going to be expected to pay for it. Many of us just won’t be able to do it,” he added.  

Tillage sector

The comments come as new emerges that tillage farmers are facing a substantial decrease in margins for 2022 compared to 2021 due to increasing costs, especially the “extraordinary increase” in fertiliser prices, according to Teagasc.

Teagasc notes that, over the past six months, fertiliser prices have continued to increase at alarming rates, with expectations that the cost of nitrogen (N) could double next year.

The authority says that the increases are driven by the continued rise in the cost of natural gas, which is a key input in the production of N fertilisers.

“The massive hikes in input costs shows how badly we need CAP [Common Agricultural Policy] supports to be directed at productive farmers,” Carberry added. 

“We must keep the pressure on to ensure that active farmers in the low-income sectors are the priority in the next CAP.”  

Carberry said that while supports are necessary, the price of commodities like grain and beef will also have to increase in line with these unsustainable input price hikes.

“It is not feasible to expect farmers to absorb all these extra costs. We will simply be driven out of business,” he concluded.