MEP Chris MacManus has questioned the European Commission about spiralling fertiliser prices. He shares his views.
It does not take an economist to tell you that a functioning market is a balanced one—this is certainly not the case in the fertiliser sector.
Price hikes are squeezing farmers. We must look at how we can relieve pressure.
One of the major contributing issues to the crises is, of course, the global increase in gas prices.
This is not something we can fix overnight and is not something this committee is likely to solve.
Spiralling fertiliser prices
In terms of what we can do, we can look at the fertiliser supply coming into Europe.
Currently, the EU imposes anti-dumping tariffs on nitrogen fertiliser. This makes non-EU products more expensive on the EU market, and is designed to protect EU fertiliser producers.
I highlighted that at the beginning of November CAN prices were over €600 a tonne and urea prices were around €900.
I fully appreciate the need to protect European business. However, if their profits, which are in the region of 40%, are resulting in farmers paying over the odds for their product then we need to curb it.
My suggestion is to aid farmers by reducing the tariffs on non-EU imports for a limited period; this would increase supply and bring down prices.
The Commission confirmed that this option was feasible and it would carry out the necessary review to see how such a measure could operate.
It did make it clear this would not be a panacea, as gas costs were still a big factor in the final price. But of course, any money we can put back into farmer’s pockets is worth doing.
Sinn Féin believes in the long term we must develop the supply of organic fertilisers and agro-ecological techniques to make us less dependent on nitrogen fertilisers.
However, in the meantime, farmers need to have access to imports at affordable prices.
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