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Norfolk fertiliser firm warns EU 'anti-dumping' measures could drive up costs for farmers

Fertiliser being spread on a Norfolk field. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Fertiliser being spread on a Norfolk field. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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Directors of a Norfolk fertiliser manufacturer travelled to Brussels to urge EU policy-makers not to enforce "anti-dumping" measures which could push up the price of soil nutrients for East Anglian farmers.

The European Commission is investigating a complaint lodged by Fertilizers Europe, claiming imports of urea and ammonium nitrate from Russia, USA and Trinidad and Tobago have been dumped into the EU market at a price lower than their normal value – thereby damaging the EU industry.

John Fuller, chairman of Brineflow Properties and Handling, which manufactures liquid fertiliser in Great Yarmouth, gave evidence to the inquiry alongside commercial director Ian Ferris.

Mr Fuller said if anti-dumping measures are implemented, such as increased import tariffs or duties from these countries, it could result in higher prices across the sector.

“Some of the vested interests in the European chemical industry have been concerned about international competition and they are trying to get punitive tariffs put on liquid nitrogen fertiliser from Russia, America and – for some treason – Trinidad and Tobago,” he said. “The effect would be to increase the price of this fertiliser by £50-£100 on nitrogen imported from outside the EU.

“We don’t buy our materials from Russia or the US but the effect of the tariff, if imposed, would be to increase the price of nitrogen fertiliser from all sources, because it would reduce competition and the big producers could charge even more.

“It was a point well made and I think the punch landed.

“We wanted to come over here and tell people what a bad idea it was. We were able to explain that the European chemical producers had painted a partial picture of the total costs of production.

“With our deep connections with farming we were able to explain there are a lot more costs than that – getting it to the UK, off the ship, and on to the farm.

“It would not be right to try and boost the profits of the European chemical industry at the expense of the British farmer, and the people who buy food in our supermarkets.”

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