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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farmers facing wipe-out over ‘astronomical’ fertiliser price increases

Many farmers in Ireland are facing a wipe-out this year due to the “astronomical” increases in fertiliser costs.

That is the warning Independent TD, Michael Collins, issued during Leaders’ Questions with An Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022.

Collins said that in recent weeks, the Rural Independent Group has “pleaded” with the government to take action.

However, he said they “have heard nothing to date about what the government have done”.

He added that in October, the group told the Taoiseach in the Dáil that this fertiliser crisis was “imminent”. As a result, the group urged the government to act immediately.

In November, another member of the group raised the matter with Martin.

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Meeting with Santini 

The week before last, at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Collins challenged Mr. Fabien Santini of the EU agriculture committee on solutions to this crisis.

Collins told the Dáil: “He [Santini] said that the rising price of gas was mainly to blame, as well as the fact that import levies are adding to the crisis.”

“However, he also stated that the government of each member state has been given latitude to provide unique farmer support through the relaxation of the state aid framework.”

“He further stated that this will only be available until June 2022 and would allow for financial aid,” Collins added.

Subsidy for fertilisers  

Continuing, he said: “It is astonishing that our Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party government has so far failed to use the tools referred to by Mr. Santini to assist our crisis-struck farmers.”

“Irish farming families need a strong government at this time. A subsidy is immediately needed for farmers who purchase fertilisers. Perhaps, one similar to the subsidy during the fodder crisis some years back.”

“Maybe I am wrong, and maybe the Greens are not wagging the tail of this Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Government.”

“If not, what has the government discussed at Cabinet since the Taoiseach was told of this fertiliser cost crisis, which affects tens of thousands of farmers in October and November?”

He asked what solutions has the government put in place to “save” many farmers from wipe-out this year.

Increases in fertiliser prices 

During the exchange, Collins shed on current fertiliser prices.

He said a farmer, who paid €300 last year for a tonne, or 20 bags, of the “most popular” fertiliser type would pay €900 this year.

“This is an astonishing increase that will leave many farmers with a nightmare decision as to how they will pay for fertiliser this year.”

Furthermore, he said that experts estimate that a farmer with 100 ha will end up paying €40,000 more for fertiliser this year.

“In fairness, most farmers I know would not own 100 ha. However, most would own 50 ha, so their fertiliser costs will increase by €20,000.”

“A typical mid-sized farmer feeding 120 tonnes of rations and using 30 tonnes of fertiliser per year will see his or her fertiliser bill rising by €23,400 a year.”

“No farmer can take this hit. They will simply go out of business, owing co-ops throughout the country tens of thousands of euro,” he concluded.

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