The Government is limited in the measures it can take to counter rising agricultural input costs, particularly those of higher green diesel prices, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise Damien English has told TDs.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohue, English said that the issue of excise duty on fuels was one which the Government had acted on earlier in March when it reduced the excise duty on green and white diesel, as well as petrol.

He also stated that the issue of rising fuel costs was one that the Government was keeping “under review”.

Farmers struggling

Minister English’s comments came in response to Sinn Féin’s TD Martin Kenny TD’s raising of the challenges posed by agri diesel price hikes as farmers are at a time of high spending on farms with the silage season.

“It was acknowledged by the farmers last night that cattle and sheep prices are up. Although those prices are up, they have not doubled,” Kenny said in referencing an IFA farmer meeting.

“I say this because the cost of everything else seems to have doubled and more than doubled. Certainly, the price of fertiliser has doubled and, in some cases, tripled.

“The price of agricultural diesel was something that they had a particular focus on because we are coming into the time of year when many farmers are trying to get their silage cut and wrapped,” he explained.

Fuel tax cuts

The cost of filling a tractor has nearly doubled over the past 12 months, Kenny continued, adding that carbon taxes were placing an additional burden on farmers.

The TD urged the Government to take action to counteract these price rises, which he said was needed if food was to be produced in the volumes needed. A price of no more than €1.20/l should be paid by farmers, he said.

“The farmers focused particularly on diesel. They made the valid point that the price of agricultural diesel is approximately €1.50 per litre at the moment,” Kenny went on.

“Therefore, 1,000l of diesel costs them €1,500. This time last year it cost €0.78/l. It cost €780 per 1,000l. It has therefore doubled in price.

“The Government needs to sit up and listen to this plea. It needs to do something to get that cost down. There is no point in taking it down by 5c/l or 10c/l and then coming out with a carbon tax that puts it back up by 5 or 10c/l, which has happened in the past.

“We need to get something real that will have a benefit to farmers so they can see that their Government cares about ensuring they will be in a position to increase their production, to grow more food and to ensure there will not be a food security crisis across Europe,” the TD said.