Discussions around fertiliser supply challenges facing farmers will feature in Monday’s meeting of EU farm ministers, with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue saying that the meeting will consider fertiliser availability issues extending beyond 2022.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski will also take part in the Council of Agricultural Ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg as an update is expected from the European Commission on pesticide reduction proposals and ensuring that the standards for agri-food goods imported into the EU are brought closer in line with farmer standards here.

Speaking ahead of the day’s deliberations, Minister McConalogue commented that the ministers would also be discussing the challenges associated with ensuring production is maintained across the EU amid the high input costs arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Planning beyond 2022

Fertiliser cost hikes and availability are two of the biggest issues facing farmers, the minister stated.

“As the current crisis becomes more prolonged, we need to prepare now for 2023. I consider that, in terms of further actions the Commission can take now, greater planning and preparation in relation to the supply of fertiliser is essential,” he said in Luxembourg.

“Fertiliser affordability and availability is one of the biggest challenges facing our farmers at present. We should also ensure that global markets continue to function effectively, and that every effort continues to be made to facilitate Ukrainian exports.

“Particularly looking at challenges in relation to ensuring that food production continues strongly across the continent and also looking at how we can continue to support our friends in Ukraine at an immensely challenging time for them.

“And also planning in regards to the challenges that are there from the from the point of view of fertiliser supply not just for this year, but for next year, and considering the challenges around that as well,” the minister said.

Important meeting

“It is important that there is fairness in relation to trade and that we apply common standards and expect the same standards from products coming into the EU as the products we export,” Minister McConalogue commented.

Minister McConalogue stated that an update was expected from the Commission on pesticide reduction strategies.

He stated that balance was needed in the approach to reducing pesticides as reduced usage for improved biodiversity should progress with consideration of yield impacts of such moves.

“Obviously, it is really important that we ensure the use of pesticides is done in a sustainable manner and biodiversity is massively important as a key priority for all member states, a key priority for Ireland and we have to ensure with the standards we apply with regards to pesticides that they are sustainable and balance that against the need for productivity as well,” the minister concluded.

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