19 September 2000
COPA backs union fertiliser campaign

By FWi staff

THE National Farmers Union has won support from the EU farmers group for its campaign against swingeing taxes on fertiliser imports.

The Committee of European Professional Agricultural Organisations (COPA) backs NFU calls for a “thorough review” of the European Commission imposed tax.

The tariff, imposed in July, hits imports of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) from Poland and the Ukraine.

COPA will write to the EC insisting that the severe impact on farmers as a result is fully considered in a review of the tax.

NFU president Ben Gill will explain this to fellow members of Farm Commissioner Franz Fischlers Advisory Committee in Brussels on Tuesday (19 Sep).

He said: “This tariff puts further price pressure on already limited supply of competitive AN supplies to Europe and the UK.

“COPA agrees with the NFU that the sharp rise in fertiliser prices across Europe and the significant increases being asked of UK farmers, which have already hit 40% and are still rising, must be tackled.

“The unions also believe that the effect of these tariffs and their effect on the market must be considered carefully.”

The Commission is due to consider the future of the temporary tariff in November.

Meanwhile, Mr Gill has met international delegations to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva to press for assurances that British farmers will not lose out in the global marketplace.

He argues that high animal welfare and environmental standards practised by British farmers place them at a disadvantage to competitors.

Lowering tariff barriers would draw in cheap imports produced to lower standards and force UK farmers out of business, said Mr Gill.

Mr Gill said attempts by some WTO members to confuse the additional costs of high production standards with protectionism remains a major stumbling block.