15 October 1999

UK pays more, says NFU survey

BIG differences in farm input prices between the UK and the Continent have been highlighted in a recent NFU membership survey.

The exercise also revealed difficulties encountered by members trying to import products. Union officials will use the information to press for parity with other EU member states.

Machinery, agrochemicals and animal health products were identified as clear areas of concern, says the NFUs Andrew Opie.

In particular, dairy animal health products were typically 30-50% more expensive in the UK than the Republic of Ireland.

Modern agrochemicals were usually 20-25% cheaper in France and Germany, though savings of up to 50% were noted.

Despite fewer legislative hurdles to overcome, and oft-cited reports of 20-30% savings, there was limited evidence of machinery imports. But the report notes that some of those who had looked to buy abroad had met resistance from manufacturers and local dealers.

"We intend to carry out further research to highlight the problem," says Mr Opie. "We are conscious that there are problems when importing certain inputs, and we will be giving guidance to members on what they can and cant do. This is linked to the ongoing regulatory review – part of the problem is the way that regulations are administered in the UK.

"We shall investigate encouraging the use of internet trading, which is particularly suitable for machinery spares. And by gathering more evidence we shall be able to put pressure on government and manufacturers to identify why inputs cost more here than in Europe." &#42