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Pressure grows in Europe as farm input costs undermine commodity rises

Fertiliser prices are soaring across the world.

Farm ministers from the EU have warned the European Commission that the rising price of fertiliser is undermining all gains from higher commodity prices.

This concern was echoed by all ministers, who warned the Commission this may bring pressure to support some sectors.

With fertiliser prices doubling in a year, Brussels remains under pressure to suspend protectionist anti-dumping duties on imported urea.

Ministers also warned that the pig industry across the EU was facing a crisis, with 14 out of the 27 member states supporting calls for immediate action. The problem is down to over production and high grain prices, when the big export market to China weakened both in terms of demand and prices.

The Commission told ministers it would keep this under review, but believed that the situation would improve by the end of the year, because poor prices are forcing a reduction in pig numbers.

Poor prices are forcing a reduction in pig numbers.

It will soon be a year since the last minute pre-Christmas deal on a trade deal between the UK and EU – but as that anniversary approaches trade tensions continue.

A briefing paper to EU farm ministers reveals that issues in addition to the Northern Ireland protocol are in play and far from settled.

The Commission says food exports from the EU to the UK have recovered from the immediate drop after Brexit but this is not the case the other way around, with UK exports still well down year-on-year.

The Commission document says however that there are still “frictions and uncertainties” around border controls.

Vineyards in the Marlborough district of New Zealand’s South Island.

Significantly it also warns that the EU will need to examine the implications of trade deals the UK is seeking to conclude with third countries. This is a reference to New Zealand and Australia as major food exporters and reflects the EU’s concerns over any efforts to use the UK as a back door to supply the EU market.

Meanwhile, the EU is to try a radical approach to bring innovation to rural communities by launching what it is calling a start-up village forum process across member states.

The concept is about finding ways to drive innovation and to allow those with ideas to benefit from others’ practical and businesses experience.

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