Government support for fertiliser costs - Yorkshire Post Letter from Farming Minister Victoria Prentis
From: Victoria Prentis, Farming Minister.
Agricultural commodity prices have always been closely correlated to global gas prices. Farmers across Yorkshire have been facing surging costs for inputs including manufactured fertiliser, due to the process depending on gas.
We know that costs pressures are cause for significant concern, and I am looking forward to being out and about in Yorkshire this week to speak to local farmers directly and hear from them about their concerns.
Last week, we announced steps to assist farmers with the availability of fertilisers for the coming growing season, to help address uncertainty and keep costs down. In the context of current fertiliser prices, our priority must be to pioneer new technologies to manufacture more organic-based fertiliser products.
We must also look at alternatives to fertiliser, using techniques like nitrogen fixing legumes and clovers.
We have therefore announced that the Government will pay farmers, through the Sustainable Farming Incentive, to help them with the costs of sowing nitrogen fixing plants and green manures in their crops – or in advance of their crops – to substitute some of their fertiliser requirements. Additionally, we are also delaying changes to the use of urea fertiliser.
To further support farmers, we have published revised and improved statutory guidance on the so-called ‘Farming Rules for Water’.
Last year, this caused huge anxiety amongst farmers, so I am pleased to say that our new guidance has been designed in partnership with industry and will provide much-needed clarity.
New slurry storage grants will also help farmers meet the Farming Rules for Water from this year. They will also help reduce dependence on artificial fertilisers by storing organic nutrients until they are needed.
Outside the European Union, we have the flexibility to adapt to market conditions that we are currently experiencing. I know that what we have announced won’t solve all of our problems – but I hope that it will be a start.
Recent events have reminded us that domestic food production matters, and it gives us national resilience. Our new schemes will support the choices that they are taking for their holdings, as well as helping them improve their profitability and output.
We’ve already increased the Farming Investment Fund for small technology grants from £17m to more than £48m, helping to support thousands of farmers.
We will support our farmers and growers all the way, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for all that they do.