EXPORT sales of agrochemicals from the UK slumped last year, according to the Crop Protection Association.
The organisations communications director, Richard Trow-Smith, said the reason for the decline, which saw sales plummet from over £1bn in 2000 to £300m during 2001, was the recent spate of mergers and buy-outs in the sector which saw much of the UKs production capacity shifted to Europe.
Although Mr Trow-Smith said it was too early to say what impact this could have on chemical prices, he was concerned that the UK was losing its power base to influence policy in the EU.
Sales within the UK, however, only slipped by 2% to £417m for the same period. Mr Trow-Smith put this down to the fact that farmers had already shaved usage so fine they were down to the absolute minimum. There was also a lower area of cereals grown last season.
Of more concern to producers was the reduction in the number of chemicals available he said, noting that active ingredient number could drop from over 800 to about 250 in the next few years.
Much of this fall will be because of the ongoing European Commissions agrochemical review process, he said. In order to harmonise EU legislation companies must pay for each of their products to be evaluated to meet the new regulations. Any product not approved by July 27, 2003, will be withdrawn. *