Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Farm Costs

Photo of Holly CairnsHolly Cairns (Cork South West, Social Democrats)
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156. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on, and response to, the high price of fertiliser, which is having a major impact on farming families. [17040/22]

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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175. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the supports he plans to put in place to support farmers in relation to the high cost of inputs, including fertiliser; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16990/22]

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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196. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the additional supports that will be available to Irish farmers arising from the increased prices in energy, feed and other inputs. [16815/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 156, 175 and 196 together.

The current situation in relation to the cost and availability of farm inputs is a significant concern. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has led to significant hikes in energy, feed and fertiliser prices and significant concerns around supply chain disruption. This is being felt at farm level and is something that I am acutely aware of.

I met with the main farm organisations and Teagasc on 8th March to discuss the impact on Irish agriculture and supply chains. At that meeting, I established the National Fodder and Food Security Committee and tasked it to prepare an industry response to the emerging crisis in feed, fodder, fertiliser and other inputs, and to develop contingency plans and advice to assist farmers in managing their farm enterprises. This Group continues to meet and I continue to engage closely with the sector as we work together on these significant challenges.

Within my Department, I also established a Rapid Response Team, chaired by the Secretary General, to actively monitor the impacts on agri-food supply chains and to contribute to the whole of Government response to this crisis.

I raised concerns in relation to the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on agri-food supply chains, and especially on input costs at the extraordinary informal meeting of European Union Agriculture Ministers held on 2nd March. I underlined the need for market support and the need to maintain supply chains and to ensure an effective and functioning Single Market.

At the AgriFish Council of 21st March, I asked the EU Commission, as part of its work on monitoring markets, to keep a very close eye on supply chains across the EU and to be ready to consider any measures that may help to alleviate the difficulties caused.

The EU Commission is considering bringing in a private storage aid scheme for the pigmeat sector, as well as allowing other exceptional measures at Member State level to respond to market disturbances.

I launched the 2022 Soils, Nutrients and Fertiliser Campaign at Teagasc’s Ballyhaise College in January in response to the unprecedented fertiliser price levels. This is a credible roadmap that will help farmers reduce their dependency on chemical fertiliser.

Teagasc has also recently issued revised advice to farmers on the recommended application amounts of fertilisers for silage fields to reflect the increase in fertiliser price.

Given Ireland’s dependence on imported feed, I announced a package of targeted interventions for the tillage sector and a multi-species sward initiative worth over €12 million to support Irish farmers on 22nd March. The package supports the growing of additional tillage and protein crops and the establishment of multi-species swards lowering demand for chemical fertiliser.

I continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and is actively engaging with the EU Commission, across Government and with industry as this situation unfolds. This is period of considerable challenge for our sector. I have taken a proactive approach to supporting our farm families and their businesses and I will continue to do so.


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