Nitrogen prices up by 60% on last year

Paul Hickey The dramatic increase in the price of artificial fertilizers debated at last (Wednesday) night’s Annual General Meeting of the county Roscommon IFA, which was addressed by IFA President Padraig Walshe. Farmers from across Roscommon expressed great anger with the major increases in the prices, which have jumped by up to 60% at fertilizer outlets across the county. The price jump has occurred because of the major jump in international oil prices. Fertilizer prices are causing great disquiet in the local farming community this spring. Artificial fertilizer is one of the two major costs of production for farmers in the West of Ireland, and as such there is considerable discontent in the county presently. Concentrated meal feed is the other major expense. The increase in fertilizer prices is eroding the marginal improvement that Irish farmers have enjoyed in recent months due to an increase in the price of food, which has led in some cases to a 15% increase in the price of Irish cattle. The Roscommon People spoke to four prominent players in Roscommon agriculture this week and got their views. We also contacted some of the major fertilizer outlets in the county for up-to-date prices. It is feared that prices will continue to increase in the coming weeks.  Mr. Oliver Burke County Agricultural Officer ‘From a farmer’s point-of-view this price increase is startling. It comes at a time when the nitrates directive and cross compliance are kicking in and all farmers have to develop an annual fertilizer plan.  ‘It’s a changed world out there: artificial fertilizer production has decreased in the Western world and is beginning to slow down in the East. The price of artificial fertilizer is beyond the control of Irish farmers: it is indexed directly to the price of oil. ‘Farmers will have to adapt and cut back on the use of artificial fertilizers. Priority will have to be given to natural nutrients and farmers will have to make best use of recyclable slurries.’ Cllr. Anthony Geraghty Fianna Fáil representative ‘I am very disappointed by the recent rises in the prices of fertilizers. While it is to be expected that fertilizer like everything else would go up in price according to inflation, rises like this are very hard on farmers and are very unreasonable. ‘I know from speaking to my neighbours that farmers haven’t budgeted for these massive increases and I know that everyone in the farming community is very concerned. This will have a particularly detrimental effect on farmers who are engaged in farm improvements currently and who need to have these improvements carried out by the end of the year. ‘Where will farmers make room in their budgets to pay for ongoing improvements that they have already committed to, and for fertilizer costs that they hadn’t anticipated? ‘I have already spoken to Government representatives on this issue and I will be writing to the Minister for Agriculture before the end of this week asking her to address it.’ Denis Naughten TD. Fine Gael representative ‘The price of fertilizer is a major issue and indeed it was discussed at the Fine Gael Four Roads branch AGM last Tuesday night. ‘Huge pressure is on farmers as a result of this astronomical rise in the price. It is particularly regrettable because farmers pay for fertilizer in spring at the beginning of the year and don’t get their single farm payment till the end of the year. The delay in the Reps payment is also hurting farmers currently: in many cases this Reps money is used to pay for fertilizer. ‘It all comes back to the fact that fertilizer isn’t produced in this country anymore – the government shut down IFI in Cork – and now we’re relying exclusively on imports. We can’t control the price as a result. ‘Farmers must be helped to utilize fertilizers better. Minister Mary Coughlan could help with one stroke of her pen by allowing farmers to spread pig slurry: this would be a cheap fertilizer option and would solve a problem for pig farmers too. This is one of a number of initiatives that the Minister could carry out which would be of great benefit.’  Mr. Bernard Donohue Chairperson, Roscommon IFA ‘The price increase is very disturbing for Roscommon and Irish farmers. At a time when farmers are making progress for the first time in 20 years with the increase in food prices, the increase in fertilizer costs is eroding any bit of progress that the farmer is making. ‘A lot of farmers have contacted me in recent weeks about this. The increased cost is prohibitive: farmers will have to revert to more traditional methods of farming. This is regrettable when world food supplies are getting scarce and Irish farmers have a market opportunity to increase production. ‘The prices are linked to oil prices so what can be done in this country to keep them down is limited. I am calling on the merchants, however, to avoid jumping on the bandwagon and to be fair to their customers’ Connacht Gold Co-op, Athleague. Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2007 €230 Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2008 €380 Eddie Naughton Agri Supplies Roscommon Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2007 €230 Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2008 €380 Farrell’s 1992 Castlecoote Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2007 €250 Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2008 €370 Castlerea Farm Supplies Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2007 €235 Tonne of Nitrogen in March 2008 €385