In Brussels, the Council of Ministers of the EU

Planas advocates EU measures to ensure the availability of fertilisers for farmers

News - 2022.11.21

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The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has defended the need for the European Commission to adopt concrete, urgent and ambitious measures to ensure the supply of fertilisers to farmers, as these products are essential for guaranteeing crop yields and, therefore, sufficient food supply for the population.

Luis Planas presented at the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the European Union (EU) a communication, supported by 15 Member States, which sets out a series of short, medium and long-term actions to ensure the availability of fertilisers at affordable prices. This proposal complements the Commission's own communication, which, according to the Spanish Minister, is a very good analysis of the situation, but is not ambitious enough or sufficiently specific.

The Minister explained that it is necessary to give certainty to farmers with concrete measures at a time when they are already making decisions on sowing, to prevent them from discarding or significantly reducing crop fertilisation.

Planas pointed out that fertilisers act as nutrients for crops and their use is essential for guaranteeing production yields and ensuring that they reach a sufficient level. But right now there is a serious problem of accessibility to them, since they have undergone a significant increase in price - 149% between September 2021 and September 2022 in the European Union - as a result of high energy costs, since gas is an essential basic material for their manufacture. This cost increase has resulted in the closure of half of Europe's ammonia production plants.

For this reason, the Minister explained that an immediate action plan is needed with a comprehensive strategy to ensure the availability of fertilisers, and he advocated that the Commission should seek support mechanisms that go beyond authorising an increase in state aid.

In addition to facilitating immediate access to fertilisers, Spain is also committed to adopting medium- and long-term measures aimed at improving Europe's autonomy in the production and supply of fertilisers and correcting the dependence maintained until now on gas and products manufactured in Russia. Likewise, initiatives should be taken to seek alternative sources in the circular economy, such as the recovery of nutrients from manure and slurry.

It is also necessary to make progress in terms of the fertilisation carried out by farmers with a more efficient, sustainable use of products, for which advice is essential. Among these medium and long-term measures, the Minister mentioned the promotion of new technologies and precision agriculture so that the doses applied are adjusted to the real needs of the crops, and to promote nitrogen-fixing crops. All these measures will be included in the fertiliser roadmap that the Ministry will draw up with the collaboration of organisations and entities in the sector.

Luis Planas also held a bilateral meeting in Brussels with the new Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Peter Kullgren, who has been in office for just a month, and a trilateral meeting with the Hungarian Minister for Agriculture, István Nagy, and the Belgian Minister for Agriculture, David Clarinval.

Non official translation

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