13 April 2001
Watchdog to probe fertiliser prices

By FWi staff

THE Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to launch a full investigation into the British fertiliser sector to uncover reasons for a recent 50% price rise.

OFT believes there is a strong enough case against fertiliser manufacturers to warrant a full investigation though there is no indication of when it is likely to start.

Farmers had complained that the consolidation of the industry into just two UK manufacturers had created monopoly powers and boosted prices.

Michael Paske, president of the National Farmers Union, said the probe into fertiliser supply and prices was excellent news for producers.

Mr Paske said: “Farmers and growers are simply in no position to withstand escalating fertiliser costs,” said Mr Paske.

Jim Walker, president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, said fertiliser costs were particularly high for arable and dairy farmers.

“Farmers are encouraged to reduce costs, but that becomes impossible when faced with such huge price hikes for which there is no justification.”

A spokesman for the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association said: “We have been expecting it and we hope it will allow the matter up to be cleared up.”

The FMA blames rising world prices for the high cost of domestic fertilisers, saying that increases are vital to allow the industry to support agriculture.