By Robert Harris
AGRICULTURAL suppliers are feeling the pinch as farmers cut back on inputs and machinery.
Prolonged depression in the sector will see a series of bankruptcies and takeovers which could raise input prices and reduce services which farmers now take for granted, merchants and dealers maintain.
“The situation is not yet desperate. But it is very, very worrying,” says Jim Reed, director general of merchant body UKASTA.
Fertiliser sales showed the biggest slump, with volumes down 20% last year compared with 1996. “It was a catastrophic year for companies with big fertiliser sectors.”
Although pig and poultry feeds held up, the sectors barometer, ruminant feeds, dived 15-20%. Agchem sales fell by almost as much, and combinable crop and grass seed sales have also dropped.