ICSA tillage chair, Gavin Carberry, has described the speed at which the price of fertiliser has increased across Ireland over recent weeks as “staggering”.
He warned that the price hikes will have “dire” consequences for farm incomes.
“In the space of six weeks, we have witnessed price hikes of almost 50%. Nitrogen, which was trading at €180/t, has now skyrocketed to €300, and urea is a whopping €400. That sort of a burden is just too great to bear,” he said.
“Fertiliser companies are blaming various global issues for these price increases, but what good is that to farmers who cannot increase their own prices to absorb any extra costs?”
“Primary producers have been forced into a position of being price takers and most have zero opportunity to work any increase in the costs of inputs into the final price they receive. The bottom line is that incomes will be seriously eroded.”
Carberry stressed it is “completely unrealistic” for farmers to be expected to take a hit like this, and for reasons beyond their control.
He outlined that tillage farmers will need supports and they will need to be compensated.
The tillage chair noted that Ireland has been singled out for €1.05bn in Brexit Support Aid. Minister McConalogue and his department officials, in his view, will have to “fight” for some of those funds to be directed towards the tillage sector.
Mr Carberry said given the sharp increase in fertiliser prices, the choice to move to organic farming might be more appealing for many tillage farmers.
“The Organics Scheme will open for applications in March. Although places in the scheme are limited, I would urge farmers to give it some consideration.”
“Equally, farmers could consider sowing beans to minimise their use of fertiliser. These options will only be useful for some tillage farmers, however, and a significant number are going to need help,” he concluded.
Fertiliser prices Ireland
Meanwhile, earlier this month, the IFA published the results of a survey on fertiliser prices.
The survey collected the prices of several fertilisers in each county. Results show a significant variation in fertiliser prices across the country ranging from €10/t to €30/t.
The keenest quotes are for volume orders and or near cash deals. In many cases, bulk purchase and self-collection reduce prices by €10 to 20/t.
Some merchants are offering extended credit terms in order to secure good business. Buyer groups in many instances are securing discounts on the above quotes.
Prices quoted to members can be found here.