Michael Fitzmaurice

IFA steps up campaign for fertiliser tarriff cut

Michael Fitzmaurice

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin is this week writing to the Agriculture Ministers in each of the 28 EU Member States calling for their support for IFA’s campaign to eliminate custom duties on fertiliser.

The IFA National Chairman asked the Agriculture Ministers for their active support for the elimination of fertiliser duties and tariffs as a means of addressing the farm income crisis.

A report commissioned by the IFA and carried out by the International Food and Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) published in February shows the elimination of duties and tariffs will deliver a significant boost to farm incomes, job creation and rural regeneration. In addition it will allow for the sourcing of fertiliser with lower cadmium levels without imposing additional costs on farmers, while safeguarding human health.

The IFPRI report shows that protection afforded to EU manufacturers through the application of anti-dumping duties of €32.83/t to €47.07/t and customs tariffs of 6.5% is costing farmers close on €1bn per annum at a time when farm incomes are under extreme pressure.

In addition the report finds that the abolition of duties would deliver significant job creation in the wider EU rural economy of a minimum of 17,245 jobs and possibly of approximately 100,000 jobs in the best-case scenario.

Fertiliser is the third main expenditure item on EU farms accounting for €19.2bn in 2014. The EU fertiliser market is highly protected through the imposition of duties on non-EU imports. Analysis of Irish price data shows that fertiliser prices are out of line, increasing at twice the rate of other inputs since 1995.

Jer Bergin said, “The European industry refuses to offer co-operatives or farmers the opportunity to manage price risk through hedging mechanisms. Increased concentration of the industry over the last four decades, allied with protection measures and greater vertical integration of the industry, has stymied real competition allowing prices to increase at a disproportionate rate.”

He said customs duties on fertilisers should be eliminated with immediate effect by means of a Council Regulation amending the Common Customs Tariff. He said there are precedents for this move, including on unwrought aluminium, jet fuel and parts and component used for civil aircraft product. The National Chairman also called for anti-dumping duties on Russian-origin ammonium nitrate to be suspended with immediate effect by means of a Commission Decision.

IFA Inputs Project Chairman James McCarthy said the EU Commission needs to take immediate action to abolish unjustified fertiliser import tariffs as it clear that these duties and tariffs protect European manufacturers at the expense of farm families whose incomes are under extreme pressure.