19 FEBRUARY 2021
ICSA Tillage chair Gavin Carberry has described the speed at which the price of fertiliser has increased over recent weeks as staggering and said it 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.”
“It is completely unrealistic for farmers to be expected to take a hit like this, and for reasons beyond their control. Tillage farmers will need supports and they will need to be compensated. Ireland has been singled out for €1.05bn in Brexit Support Aid and Minister McConalogue and his department officials 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, and although places in the scheme are limited, I would urge farmers to give it some consideration. Equally, farmers could consider sowing beans to minimize their use of fertiliser. These options will only be useful for some tillage farmers however, and a significant number are going to need help.”