Environment Secretary, George Eustice has announced that changes to the use of urea fertiliser will be delayed by at least a year.
The delay has been made to help farmers manage their costs and give them more time to adapt in the light of a global rise in gas prices leading to pressures on the supply of ammonium nitrate fertilisers.
As well as this, further details of the Sustainable Farming Incentive have been published today. Given current fertiliser prices, Defra aim to prioritise investment into new technologies to manufacture more organic-based fertiliser products, and rediscover techniques such as using nitrogen fixing legumes and clovers as an alternative to fertiliser.
In response, CLA President Mark Tufnell said:
Whilst we welcome today’s announcements, it is important to recognise the sheer scale of the challenges ahead in the UK’s food production.
“The exceptionally high price of fertiliser can be mitigated only to a degree by high commodity prices. Some farmers may choose not to spread fertiliser at all this year. But if prices continue to stay at this all-time-high then government will need to urgently consider ways of increasing and diversifying domestic fertiliser production. We hope this will be a central focus of the round table DEFRA has rightly called.
“We welcome the news that DEFRA has accepted the industry’s advice to allow the continued use of urea within an accreditation scheme, audited by Red Tractor. This gives farmers a greater degree of choice when purchasing fertiliser.
“The announcement of payment rates for the Sustainable Farming Incentive, and additional guidance on the compatibility of the scheme with Countryside Stewardship, goes some way to explaining to farmers the impact of the agricultural transition on their own businesses.“