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IFA in Brussels

IFA’s Chairman of the Inputs Project Team, Tom Short, told DG Trade representatives at a hearing for the Expiry review of anti-dumping measures on AN imports from Russia to the EU, that renewing this anti-dumping measure would lead to a continued dysfunctional fertiliser market in the EU.

“Our highest cost is nitrogen, but fertiliser prices are artificially high, and we have no say in the matter. The Commission has to listen to farmers and recognise the economic impact on the users of fertilisers. The fertiliser industry is profitable enough; they don’t need further protection with anti-dumping measures,” he said.

The European fertiliser producers sought the current review and request for a further five-year extension. The disclosure by the European Commission is due in September. A decision must be taken whether to continue with a measure that has been in place for 25 years.

IFA’s Tom Short was supported in his evidence by French arable farmer Cedric Benoist representing AGPB, part of the French farming association FNSEA, who demanded that AN had to be made available at a competitive price in Europe.

IFA has campaigned actively for a fairer market for fertilisers. Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan confirmed in a letter to the European Farmers’ Association COPA and copied to the Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski that any decision would consider the interest of users, including farmers, and also take into consideration the prevailing market situation.

“Farmers cannot be expected to continue to work harder just to stand still,” said Tom Short.


IFA President Tim Cullinan said that many aspects of the EU’s ‘Farm to Fork’ and ‘Biodiversity’ strategies published today by the EU Commission are unrealistic and will make European farming uncompetitive.

“There needs to be a comprehensive economic impact assessment of these proposals by the EU and separately by the Irish Government and Minister Creed. He should ask Teagasc to begin this immediately,” he said.

“The EU Commission is rightly having urgent meetings about stimulating economic recovery after COVID-19, yet these aspirations could make EU farmers uncompetitive and put them out of business. This could decimate economic activity in rural areas in particular,” he said.

“It is not credible for the EU to drive up production costs for European farmers while at the same time looking for low food prices. They want food produced to organic standards, but available at conventional prices,” he said.

“It is likely that farmers will end up paying through higher costs and low prices while retailers will continue to make billions,” he said.

The IFA President said the absence of any commitment on increased funding for farmers shows how deeply flawed this proposal is. “Saddling farmers with extra costs without any increase in CAP funding through the MFF is a complete contradiction to the policy of sustaining farm incomes,” he said.

“The EU wants ever-increasing standards imposed on European farmers, but will do trade deals to import food from other countries which have much lower standards and do not meet EU rules,” he said.

“These EU strategies could be counterproductive as they we will drive European farmers out of business, leaving the EU dependent on these imports and threatening food security,” he said.

Irish and European farmers already work to strict Agricultural and Environmental conditions covering animal welfare, traceability, food safety and the environment.  Over 50,000 Irish farmers participate in the Green Low Carbon Scheme (GLAS).

“There is a lack of realism in many of the proposals in these strategies. A fundamental question needs to asked about what input the EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski and DG Agri had in drafting them. The Agriculture Commissioner wasn’t even included in the press conference today,” he said.

“One positive is an acknowledgment that farmers deserve credit for carbon they are already storing and sequestering on their farms. Farmers do this through their grassland, crops and hedges which also contribute hugely to biodiversity,” he said.

While there is far too much focus in the documents on ‘plant-based diets’, the review of how the EU can use its promotion programme to support the most sustainable, carbon-efficient methods of livestock production is something that should favour our grass-based system if it’s assessed fairly.

“There is a long road to travel on these strategies. IFA made a submission in the original consultation phase and we will continue to fight those aspects of the strategies which will impact farmer livelihoods,” he said.

At a meeting in Brussels this week, IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods was re-elected Chairman of the EU Commission Civil Dialogue Group on Animal Products.

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Following the passing of the EU regulation on the €100m Brexit beef fund in Brussels today, IFA President Joe Healy said Minister Creed must ensure the funding is paid out to the farmers who have incurred the losses and need it most, as soon as possible. He said the clearance of the regulation paves the way for the Department of Agriculture to pay out the funds to farmers.

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The Irish Farmers’ Association has demanded that EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom take beef off the table in the EU/Mercosur negotiations.

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