Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue is open to hearing proposals on mobilising the €450m EU-wide crisis reserve for farmers dealing with high fertiliser costs over 2023.

The crisis reserve was drawn down this year, when Ireland’s allocation amounted to about €15.8m, but with the new CAP, the overall size of the fund is due to fall €50m from the €500m that was available in 2022.

“Ireland is open to considering proposals on the use of agriculture reserve if this would not negatively impact direct payments,” Minister McConalogue said.

The Minister was commenting at a meeting of EU farm ministers on Monday, where European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski referred to the global fertiliser crisis as having an impact “unprecedented since the 1970s”.


The financial tools member states can use to mitigate the “short-term economic difficulties” of farmers were summarised by the Commissioner.

Among these tools were the use of the €450m agricultural crisis reserve in 2023 and the possibility for member states to operate state-run bulk buying schemes for fertiliser.

“I would like to highlight the potential for target aid, for instance public authorities can purchase fertiliser and offer them at lower prices to farmers,” the Commissioner told ministers.

“I do not rule out the use of the agricultural crisis reserve if to support our farmers.”

Bulk buying fertiliser

Minister McConalogue responded to the Commissioner’s remarks by stating that the rule change allowing member states to now pay farmers €250,000 in state aid was welcome.

However, the Minister suggested that he has concerns over the potential impact of bulk buying schemes on fertiliser prices.

“Ireland welcomes the increased flexibility in the temporary crisis framework, which we have used. However, we need to be aware of the need to maintain a level playing field across the EU.

“Ireland considers the proposals to allow direct Government intervention in the market could risk distortion in prices.”

The Department of Agriculture has yet to respond to the Irish Farmers Journal on whether Minister McConalogue will consider introducing such measures to reduce fertiliser costs for Irish farmers.

Food security

In the longer term, the Commissioner stated that the EU will seek to become more self-sufficient in fertiliser manufacturing to avoid dependence on other states for the input.

“We cannot allow our agri-food systems to be held hostage by countries such as Russia who have shown that they cannot be trusted.”

“Close to 50%” of EU nitrogen production remains out of operation due to current gas prices, the ministers were told.

The EU’s farm policy chief also recognised that expensive fertilisers affect global food security, over the short term at least.

“Fertilisers are three to five times more expensive than the long-term average. As a result, farmers are faced with difficult decisions,” he added.

“We have indications that farmers have been buying less fertilisers than usual. Of course, high energy and fertiliser costs play a role in fuelling food price inflation.”