The energy ministers of the EU countries will meet for emergency deliberations because of the energy crisis, possibly already at the end of this week. Rising gas prices are leading to the closure of more and more fertilizer factories, which threatens to leave European agriculture without fertilizer.
Last week, two Polish fertilizer producers, Azoty and Anwil, decided to stop production. The Norwegian Yara, which includes a branch in Sluiskil, is also partially suspending production. The decision came less than 24 hours after Britain's largest fertilizer factory shut down. About two-thirds of European fertilizer production has come to a standstill due to high gas prices.
Europe imported almost 40% of the fertilizer from Russia. Mineral fertilizers are used for almost half of food production. Many farmers simply can no longer afford the current extremely high prices.
Polish agricultural organizations have sounded the alarm and say food production will come to a standstill this autumn. They point out that CO2 is a by-product of fertilizer production, which they need as an anesthetic in the many Polish pig slaughterhouses.
The high gas prices are a direct result of the European sanctions against Russia because of the war in Ukraine. Putin pays for that war with the profits from the sale of his oil and gas. The EU countries therefore decided to stop buying Russian oil and to get rid of Russian natural gas as soon as possible.
But reducing Russian imports will take several years before EU countries find other suppliers and develop alternatives.
Ministers also decided in June that the EU countries should top up their winter stocks "at any cost" as much as possible "so that we do not get left out in the cold if the Russians cut the supply". As a result, Russia has already curtailed deliveries to EU countries, causing gas prices on the international markets to soar.
Decreasing fertilizer supplies will keep prices high, which could threaten food production if farmers are forced to produce less because fertilizers run out. This threatens to make food even more expensive for consumers.