Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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European Commission: EU countries can buy fertilizer themselves

The European Commission sees no possibility in the short term to do anything for farmers who have to contend with extremely expensive fertilizer prices. However, Brussels is prepared to give accelerated permission if EU countries themselves want to give state aid to their farmers. 

Moreover, no relaxation of current fertilizer rules is to be expected. Only in the longer term can new 'green' fertilizer substitutes be allowed. To this end, a decision must first be made in the spring of 2023 about a 'nutrient management plan'. 

However, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski advised LNV ministers to discuss any package of wishes with him as part of the individual NSP negotiations. According to him, those procedures bieden leave some room for exceptions per country. But when asked by reporters about a possible "derogation," he grimaced.

Wojciechowski had little news to report at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon: the EU doesn't have the money, so if EU countries want something for their farmers, they will have to cough it up themselves. He does want to see next year whether the agri-crisis reserve (more than 425 million) can be used, but the 27 LNV ministers also have something to say about this.

In a first reaction, COPA president Christiane Lambert said that for the European agricultural umbrella organizations Copa-Cogeca, the disappointment is as great as they had been expected: this new communication simply does not provide concrete answers to the problems of European farmers, she said.

Commissioner Wojciechowski said that the impact of the extremely expensive fertilizer varies greatly from country to country; there are countries that use little and therefore require little state support.

He also pointed out that so far 18 countries have used their 'own money', in all kinds of different forms. And nine countries still nothing. The EU authorized increased amounts for state aid earlier this year, and many EU countries are far from their maximum. 

As a successful example of what can already be done, Wojciechowski is sorry for the situation in Poland. There, the government has invested hundreds of millions of euros of taxpayers' money in a national fertilizer agency. That government agency buys – with a slight discount – very large batches of fertilizer, which Polish farmers can then purchase at a reduced price. The difference is made up by the Polish State.


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