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Thursday 19 January 2017

Healy calls for collective action on fertiliser prices

Published 26/04/2016 | 02:30

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez at the Mercosur summit (AP)
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez at the Mercosur summit (AP)

The new IFA president Joe Healy has called for collective action from farm leaders across Europe on fertiliser prices ahead of his inaugural address to the IFA AGM tomorrow.

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The address is expected to focus on farm input costs as a key way of addressing the farm income situation, which some claim is already at crisis point.

Mr Healy is also expected to address the issues surrounding pay and governance that have over-shadowed the organisation since last November.

Meanwhile, Mr Healy pleaded with the 56 presidents of farming organisations across the EU to put the interests of farmers ahead of national industry interests.

"There is public opposition from Fertiliser Europe and from Poland and other countries seeking to protect their own fertiliser production. I am committed to gathering strong farmer support across Europe to resist attempts to keep import duties and deny badly-needed savings to farmers," he said.

A report commissioned by the IFA concluded that protection afforded to EU manufacturers through the application of anti-dumping duties of €33-47/t and customs tariffs of 6.5pc is costing farmers close to €1bn annually at a time when farm incomes are under extreme pressure.

In addition, the report found that the abolition of duties would deliver significant job creation in the wider EU rural economy of a minimum of 17,245 jobs and possibly of approximately 100,000 jobs in the best-case scenario.

Fertiliser is the third biggest input cost on EU farms accounting for €19.2bn in 2014. The EU fertiliser market is highly protected through the imposition of duties on non-EU imports. Analysis of Irish price data shows that fertiliser prices are out of line, increasing at twice the rate of other inputs since 1995.

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"The European industry refuses to offer co-operatives or farmers the opportunity to manage price risk through hedging mechanisms," said Mr Healy.

"Increased concentration of the industry over the last four decades, allied with protection measures and greater vertical integration of the industry, has stymied real competition allowing prices to increase at a disproportionate rate," added Mr Healy.

He also called for anti-dumping duties on Russian-origin ammonium nitrate to be immediately suspended by the EU Commission.

During his first visit to Brussels last week, Mr Healy also hit out at the Commission's approach to the Mercosur trade talks with South American countries.

He demanded that all offers on increased access to the European beef market be taken off the table following a meeting with the Commission's deputy director general for trade, Maria Los Angeles Benitez Salas.

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