By Farmers Weekly staff

THE Office of Fair Trading,is to investigate the supply and pricing of fertiliser in the UK.

Jim Walker, president of the Scottish NFU, received a letter from John Bridgeman, director general of fair trading, on Tuesday (19 September) confirming that an investigation would be launched.

The Scottish NFU wrote to Mr Bridgeman last month pointing out the sharp increase in fertiliser prices, (to 120/t for domestic nitrogen), and the fact that the market is in the hands of only three main suppliers.

This has the potential to be good news. Its certainly a step in the right direction, Mr Walker said.

Mr Bridgemans letter confirms that there will be an investigation to find out whether anti-competitive agreements, practices or conduct exist in this market place.

Meanwhile, European farmers group COPA has thrown its weight behind an NFU campaign to cut duties on fertiliser imports from Poland and the Ukraine.

These increases have had a very adverse effect on the incomes of farmers who are unable to pass them on to the sale price of their products, it said.

COPA will be meeting EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler ahead of a November review of the duties to press the case.

The NFU told the commission earlier this month that the anti-dumping duties do more damage to UK farmers than the lack of duty would do to EU manufacturers.