Could fertiliser prices go even higher due to new EU rules
MEPs have clashed over draft EU fertiliser rules that some fear could push up costs for farmers and leave the bloc dependent on Russian imports.
During a debate in the European Parliament's agriculture committee last week, battle lines were drawn on a year-old European Commission proposal intended to boost organic fertilisers.
Only 10pc of fertilisers in the EU are organic (based on compost or manure), with 80pc produced using minerals, mainly nitrogen, but also phosphorus and potassium.
Agriculture MEPs are afraid that a rule change designed to reduce cadmium, a naturally occurring but toxic and carcinogenic heavy metal, in phosphate rock imports will benefit Russia.
The EU imports around six million tonnes of phosphate a year, mainly from Morocco, where naturally occurring cadmium residues are high.
The Commission wants to lower cadmium limits gradually from 60mg/kg of phosphate to 20mg/kg over a period of 12 years.
"The only country that can produce cadmium respecting these limits is Russia," said Romanian centre-right MEP Daniel Buda during a debate on the draft last week.
Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness said farmers need "the guaranteed availability of fertilisers that are reliable and that give them good crops".