Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 13 December 2017

MEPs seek clawback on new fertiliser regime

Ireland must reduce its ammonia (NH3) discharges from farming by 5pc in the period to 2030. Pic Roger Jones.
Ireland must reduce its ammonia (NH3) discharges from farming by 5pc in the period to 2030. Pic Roger Jones.

Sarah Collins

A group of MEPs are seeking to soften draft fertiliser rules they say will harm EU producers and contravene international trade law.

The rules, proposed by the European Commission last March, aim to boost the production of organic fertilisers and limit toxic substances such as cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

Less than 10pc of the fertilisers produced in the EU are organic, with the bloc highly dependent on imports of phosphate rock - which contains cadmium - to produce its fertiliser.

However, the Commission has suggested cadmium limits at 60mg/kg of phosphorus, falling gradually to 20mg/kg after 12 years, in its draft law.

"The proposed unrealistic cadmium limit could lead to a major disturbance of trade with a number of phosphate rock producing countries and raises serious questions on the WTO compliance," says Polish centre-right MEP Jaroslaw Walesa in his recent report for the European Parliament's trade committee.

Around 90pc of the phosphate rock used to produce fertilisers in the EU is imported, and while the cadmium limits wouldn't apply to imported raw materials, they would apply to finished CE-marked fertilisers produced inside the bloc.

Agriculture committee MEP Jan Huitema is also seeking changes to the EU's 1991 nitrates directive to boost the use of processed animal manure as a fertiliser.

MEPs have until this week to table amendments to the Commission draft.

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They will then have to reach a unified position before entering talks with governments.

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