The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has called on the European Commission to immediately address what it calls the dysfunctional fertiliser market in Europe where manufacturers control production and farmers face spiralling fertiliser input costs.

"Anti-dumping duties imposed by the European Commission on some fertilisers have removed any meaningful competition from the market and left farmers facing some of the highest fertiliser prices globally," the IFA said.

According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) data, nitrogen fertiliser prices increased by 11% over the past 12 months to the end of July and appears set to continue to rise for the remainder of the year.

This price rise is predominantly due to a surge in the price of natural gas in Europe.

Anti-dumping measure

The IFA has joined with COPA and the other European farming associations in asking the European Commission to suspend the anti-dumping measure on urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN).

This duty alone is costing European cereal farmers over €200m per year, it says.

“With current gas prices and the knock-on impact this inevitably will have on fertiliser prices, the imposition of EU anti-dumping taxes on any fertiliser is completely unacceptable at present,” said IFA president Tim Cullinan.

“The IFA is writing to the Commission to seek the immediate suspension of these anti-dumping taxes,” he said.

Natural gas

Natural gas is an essential feedstock in producing urea and nitrate fertilisers.

Yara, one of the world’s largest fertiliser manufacturers, has blamed this for a cut to its European output by 40%.

"Another American company, CF Industries, has closed two fertiliser production plants in the United Kingdom this week alone. Neither of these manufacturers has stated when they intend to restart production," the IFA said.

“Reduced European fertiliser output will require substitution with nitrogen fertilisers manufactured outside the EU area.

"The addition of anti-dumping duties on certain nitrogen fertilisers produced outside of the European Union inflates European farmgate prices,” said Cullinan.