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Opinion: EU response is that we need to move away from chemical fertilisers

ICSA president, Dermot Kelleher, shares his thoughts on the fertiliser cost crisis.

I am slamming the EU response to the fertiliser cost crisis as woefully inadequate, and there were echoes of the disastrous thinking that caused chaos in Sri Lanka.

The EU response is that we need to move away from chemical fertilisers.

That is all very lovely and desirable, but there has to be an element of the real-world thinking if we are to avoid a food security and affordability crisis.

Irish farmers are rapidly moving to reduce dependence on fertiliser by careful use of slurry and farmyard manure, re-seeding with clover, liming to get soil pH correct, and the use of technology to ensure accurate spreading.

But none of these actions alone will suffice, and some of them cost a lot of money and will take time to implement.

It is disappointing, to say the least, that the EU has refused to budge on import tariffs on fertiliser which is achieving nothing other than penalising EU agriculture.

The reality is that this will lead to further pressure on grain prices as well as on the cost of growing grass.

All farming sectors will be hit as a result of the failure to take this issue seriously.

The possibility of using the EU €450 million crisis reserve was being looked at, but the EU was dragging its heels.

Input inflation crisis

However, the real problem is that the EU is not looking at new funding sources to solve the input inflation crisis, which is an extraordinary scenario, partly caused by EU quantitative easing programmes and, of course, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The ongoing belief that the CAP fund can be raided over and over to solve unprecedented disasters is untenable.

ICSA supports the development of non-fossil fertilisers, but it is wishful thinking in the extreme that this will provide a solution in the next 3-5 years.

ICSA notes that the EU Commission will allow some state support for fertiliser.

We are again calling on Minister McConalogue to deliver up to €2,000 pre-farm of a fertiliser support, targeted at the low-income sectors where product price is not covering the cost of production.

Other article on €12/ewe is an insult to farmers

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