“The use of organic fertilisers in 2022 will be particularly cost-effective for farmers in light of the current price of chemical fertilisers”.
That is the information the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine relayed to Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan, on Tuesday, December 14th.
Nolan asked the minister if there are supports available from his department for farmers who wish to use organic fertilisers or fertiliser pellets that are biologically composted and 100% organic.
In response, McConalogue said:
“The application of fertilisers to land is regulated by the Nitrates Regulations SI 605 2017.”
“These regulations provide for the use of organic fertilisers as well as chemical fertilisers to growing crops when ground and weather conditions allow.”
“Certified analysis of any fertiliser used should be available to farmers so that they can optimise the use of nutrients.”
“There are currently no supports available for the use of fertiliser. Support through capital aid scheme or TAMS is available to farmers to purchase LESS equipment and GPS enabled fertiliser spreaders.”
Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae also quizzed the minister about the “impending” fertiliser shortage.
The deputy asked the DAFM if it implementing measures to introduce a rescue package for farmers.
In response, the minister said he is “very aware” of the “significant increase” in fertiliser prices over the last year, particularly in recent months.
He acknowledged that this will be a challenge for “many” farmers in 2022. He said global supply and demand are drivers of the fertiliser market.
McConalogue stated that while there are several factors influencing fertiliser price, the “major” driving factors for increases are:
- Increased global demand due to strong growth in agricultural commodity prices;
- Rising production costs due to increased raw material and energy costs;
- Protectionism by global players;
- Issues with supply for certain fertiliser products.
At the November Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, the minister raised the increasing challenge farmers face due to the rising costs of inputs.
He called on the EU Commission to consider all options to ease the pressure on farmers at this time.
This includes questioning whether the imposition of anti-dumping duties on fertiliser imports continues to be “appropriate” and for this matter to be examined as a priority.
Furthermore, he recently wrote to the EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski asking him to finalise the Commission’s examination of tariffs.
Moreover, the minister said he has introduced many initiatives to support farmers reduce their dependence on fertiliser.
These include a new initiative to support the planting of multi-species swards and a pilot Soil Sampling Programme.
Climate Action Plan and alternative fertiliser strategy
The minister then pointed to the Climate Action Plan. He said it commits to more targeted and reduced use of chemical nitrogen fertiliser while maintaining the same level of grass production through several measures, including improved soil fertility and greater use of clover and multi-species swards.
Additionally, he has tasked Teagasc with developing a roadmap for farmers to reduce chemical fertilisers use on farms.
Concluding, the minister said: “We will continue to support farmers reduce their dependence on fertiliser.”
“My officials will closely monitor the fertiliser market and how it develops in the weeks and months ahead.”