Ulster Unionist Party MEP Jim Nicholson has called for steps to be taken to help make the EU fertiliser market more competitive.
Mr Nicholson said: “Farmers in all sectors continue to be under pressure due to a combination of factors which are hitting prices and returns. High input costs associated with agriculture also squeeze margins and in spite of oil prices being low for a sustained period fertiliser prices show little sign of reflecting lower energy costs.
“I am aware that natural gas is the main production cost for fertiliser and that industry analysts say that it can take time for changes in the price of oil to feed through to the gas price – although fertiliser prices do appear to quickly increase and track the price of oil when it goes up!
“The level of competition in the EU fertiliser market is an issue as there are just a handful of manufacturers. Market transparency and competition is an area where more needs to be done. For example action from the European Commission to remove tariff barriers to fertiliser imports would increase the level of competition in the market and help to reduce prices.
“I have written to the European Commission to raise concerns regarding the lack of competition in the EU’s fertiliser market and to highlight the impact of high input costs on farm businesses. Producers are already under considerable pressure and if steps can be taken to help reduce the price of this key input cost then they should be taken.”