“Why is fertiliser so much cheaper in Northern Ireland?”, asks IFA

The Irish Farmers’ Association has called on fertiliser sellers in the Republic of Ireland to reduce their prices, amid an ongoing global shortage of the substance.

According to IFA figures, several commonly used types of fertiliser are substantially cheaper in Northern Ireland than they are in the Republic, including urea, Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN), and 18-6-12. 


By way of example, the IFA pointed out that urea is being sold in Munster for an average price of €890 per tonne. Meanwhile, a tonne of the same substance in Northern Ireland costs around €620 – around €270 less.

A similar price differential was seen for other varieties of the product. Notably, prices appear to become gradually lower the further North you go.

Price of fertiliser has dropped by over 40% to farmers in jurisdictions such as the UK and Germany by the end of January. However, the IFA says that there has been “very little movement” in price by comparison in Ireland.

According to Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh, there is “no justification” for this price difference, as all fertiliser used on the island of Ireland comes from the same sources.

“Windfall profits of up to €250/t were made on fertiliser last year,” the IFA said in a statement. 

“Farmers cannot afford for this to happen again this year. The tillage sector is a priority as farmers are buying and spreading their 2023 fertiliser at the moment.”

The group highlighted a recent report which showed that fertiliser sellers saw record profits last year. 

IFA President Tim Cullinan said it’s “unacceptable” for sellers to keep fertiliser prices at “inflated” levels. 

According to Cullinan there was “huge frustration” at an IFA National Council meeting this week about the issue, and he called for “immediate and substantial price reductions.”

“Farmers need fertiliser and they feel they are being held over a barrel by the fertiliser industry,” he said. 

“If we don’t see immediate and substantial price reductions, we have a clear mandate to take whatever action is required.”

Global fertiliser prices soared last year amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as the region of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine produce a large proportion of the world’s fertiliser. One notable effect of the war was to disrupt fertiliser supply chains, and reduce the amount of exports going to Europe and elsewhere. Western sanctions against Russia will also have been a factor in this.

At the start of 2022, over 60% of Ireland’s potassium fertiliser and 30% of its nitrogen fertiliser come from Russia and Belarus. In 2021, a tonne of fertiliser cost an Irish farmer around €250 on average. 

After the war, this figure had risen to €720 a tonne.

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