Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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EU agricultural council looks at food, energy and fertilizer

The Czech temporary chairman of the European Agriculture Council believes that 'food security' should remain a EU priority for the next six months. But several LNV ministers urged an informal two-day meeting in Prague to expand the EU agri plans. 

It has become clear from a summary at the closing press conference that several EU countries are updating their agri-wish list. 'Food security' is still the top priority for most ministers, but 'energy', 'heating costs', 'fertiliser' and 'farmer's incomes' are increasingly mentioned in the same breath.

For example, the Spanish and French Agriculture Ministers Luis Planas and Marc Fesneau believe that the EU should 'become autonomous' in the field of fertilizer production. Czech minister Zdenek Nekula acknowledged afterwards that the two-day meeting was mainly about 'energy and fertilizer'. He said that the subject will be discussed at the official Agriculture Council in Brussels in just over a week.

Minister Planas recently said that guaranteed available fertilizer for agriculture is an absolute necessity. In doing so, he is not only turning against the threatening consequences of the Russian gas boycott, but also against proposals from the European Commission for 'less chemicals and more bio'.

Because gas prices have risen so dramatically recently, several chemical companies have virtually shut down their production. Due to new Russian threats, normalization of European gas purchases – and therefore also the fertilizer market – is further out of the picture.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski pointed out that the EU is currently discussing 'creaming off' energy companies' mega profits, which will make it possible for the EU member states to free up money for state aid for the (collective?) purchase of fertilizer. Earlier this week, Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans said that the Netherlands can also meet greenhouse horticulture.

Spanish Minister Planas reiterated his earlier plea that the EU can only reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture if alternatives are available. The proposal previously launched by the Netherlands for the processing of natural manure into dry, spreadable manure powder was not mentioned.

Wojciechowski could not give any clarity about alternatives. At a press conference, Wojciechowski reiterated his earlier commitment "that it is being worked on."

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