Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on fertiliser, IFA deputy president, Brian Rushe, said the profiteering within the fertiliser industry is coming at a detrimental cost to Irish farmers’ livelihoods.

Fertiliser prices around Europe continue to decrease, with an almost 60% fall in prices between the peaks of 2022 and March 2023, but in Ireland prices have remained largely static.

In the UK, the AHDB reported that the price paid for urea by farmers had fallen by over 40% from September 2022 to February 2023.

Unsustainable prices

As per the CSO fertiliser price data, in the same period in Ireland, the price of urea has only reduced by a fraction and from a higher level than UK prices were in September 2022.

“Farmers, as price takers, operate in a sector with very tight margins and must have the opportunity to purchase fertiliser at a fair and competitive price,” the IFA deputy president said.

“Farmers cannot directly pass on increases to their input costs in the price they sell their produce for.

"For that reason, it must always be ensured that farmers are paying a correct price for their inputs and not becoming victims of profiteering by organisations in the input supply chain,” Brian Rushe stated.

“Currently, that is not happening and the prices farmers are being quoted are simply unsustainable,” he added.

In November 2022, the EU Commission announced the formation of a market observatory to share data on the production, use, prices and trade for fertiliser in Europe.

The IFA will be an active participant in the expert group within this observatory, and it is hoped that all members of the Irish fertiliser trade will also fully engage in this.