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nufarm warns on herbicide supply

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    Herbicide warning

    By Rebecca Tampion
    February 25 2008
    Country News

    Increased global demand is forcing up prices and putting pressure on the availability of herbicides in Australia.

    Crop protection company Nufarm said Chinese and American manufacturers of glyphosate raw materials were struggling to keep pace with the increasing global demand and the price of glyphosate product in Australia continued to increase.

    The company's Australasian manager Lachlan McKinnon said the expansion of glyphosate-resistant `Roundup Ready' crops, particularly in North and South America, and the continued adoption of minimum tillage farming in eastern Europe, China and India, was seeing unprecedented pressure on the availability of raw materials used in the manufacture of glyphosate.

    Mr McKinnon said the cost of technical glyphosate material from a number of sources had more than tripled in the past 12 months and he suggested there would be further pressure on demand and pricing in Australia.

    IK Caldwell general manager David Jobling said they had managed to maintain supply of glyphosate products for existing customers.

    "We've got enough on order and coming through to look after our growers for preplant average use rate," Mr Jobling said.

    He estimated supply was likely to remain tight for the pre-cropping season and possibly through until the end of 2008.

    Kyabram's Dunstall Rural Supplies manager Brent Dunstall said the shortage of glyphosate products had only really hit in the past two months.

    "We got wind of it early and ordered semi-trailer loads of the stuff," he said.

    "We're slowly getting stock but as soon as we're getting it in it's going out."

    Mr Dunstall said glyphosate products had doubled in price in the past four months.

    "It's a kick in the guts for farmers; it's something else that's gone through the roof."

    Fertiliser availability is also under strain and prices have risen significantly.

    Owner of AJAX fertilisers Bruce O'Keefe said extra plantings in China, India and the United States had put increased demand on fertilisers products.

    Mono-ammonium phosphate and diammonium phosphate have risen by about $600 a tonne while super phosphate has almost doubled in price.

    However, Mr O'Keefe said the outlook for favourable cropping prices was still giving farmers optimism to move forward with dearer prices.

    VFF president Simon Ramsay said the shortage and price rise of both herbicides and fertilisers was being driven by market forces.

    "As far as price goes it is driven by the market place and we couldn't interfere . . . unfortunately we're going to have to see the supply and demand cycle go through," Mr Ramsay said.

    "All we can do is encourage farmers to discuss their needs with retailers and not leave it until the last minute."

    Mr Ramsay said good commodity prices were being tempered by the the high price of fuel, chemicals and fertilisers, which was taking away the opportunity for profitability.
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