Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Major fertiliser company accused of 'ripping off' farmers

Amazone’s ZA-TS hydro mounted fertiliser spreader.
Amazone’s ZA-TS hydro mounted fertiliser spreader.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

European fertiliser manufacturers have been accused of ripping off farmers by jacking up prices since the beginning of the season by IFA President, Joe Healy.

The IFA has singled out Yara, one of Europe’s fertiliser leading manufacturer, staging a protest outside is depot in Cork yesteray.

Speaking at a protest at the Yara depot in Ringaskiddy in Cork, Joe Healy said, “Yara has hit farmers with seven price increases since last June".

"Wholesale EU CAN prices have risen by a massive 48%, with Ammonium Nitrate prices up by 34%”. 

He said this level of price increase is unjustified. It clearly demonstrates that increased concentration of the industry and anti-dumping duties and customs tariffs have resulted in a lack of real competition in the EU fertiliser market.

Healy said, the continuing rise in input costs coupled with falling commodity prices is eroding family farm incomes.

"This cost price squeeze is hammering farmers and damaging the competitiveness of Irish and EU agriculture. Fertiliser is the second largest expenditure item on Irish farms.

"Following the introduction of anti-dumping duties in 1994, Irish and EU fertiliser prices have increased at almost double the rate compared to other inputs”.

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According to Healy, European fertiliser manufacturers have "profiteered from this protection over the last decade while farm incomes decline".

"Duties and tariffs are putting farmers at a significant competitive disadvantage.

"The EU Commission must level the playing field, abolish anti-dumping duties and tariffs on non-EU fertiliser imports immediately and help to restore competitiveness to Irish and European agriculture. This move would save Irish farmers an estimated €32m per annum and European farmers €1bn.”

Efforts to remove tariffs costing EU farmers up to €1bln per year have stalled in Brussels, according to a recent update by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

The Irish Government has been lobbied heavily by IFA on the issue and it commissioned IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) report which showed a failure of competition in the European fertiliser market, costing farmers up to €1bn.

The IFA says the removal of the tariffs and duties on EU fertiliser imports, which would deliver €50 to €70m in annual savings to Irish farmers

According to Minister Creed, the matter of reducing fertiliser costs throughout the EU gained traction in early 2016 due to the ongoing market difficulties being experienced by farmers across the dairy, pigmeat and fruit and vegetable sectors.

“I have long believed that the elimination of fertiliser tariffs and anti-dumping duties is something that could help farmers reduce their input costs and in this context I asked the Commission to consider a temporary suspension of customs tariffs and anti-dumping duties on fertilisers in the lead up to the Council of Agriculture Ministers in March last year,” he said.

Minister Creed says this is something that he actively pursued at Council throughout 2016, both with the Commission and in consultation with my Council colleagues, and he says in fact raised again at Council of Agriculture Ministers last week when he asked the Commission to address the significant overpricing of fertilisers in the EU brought about by the imposition of anti-dumping duties on imports.

The Minister said Commissioner Hogan acknowledged the desirability of bringing about lower prices, but indicated that, despite considerable efforts on his part both with other Member States and internally within the Commission, this is proving very difficult to achieve.

Online Editors