AIC warns of threat to spring supplies of fertiliser

With British fertiliser orders some 30% down on the past year and a prediction from the Road Haulage Association that there will be a driver shortage in the first quarter of next year, the Agricultural Industries Confederation is warning farmers to plan ahead to ensure product is available when they want it.

The fertiliser industry’s monthly statistical report shows that the July-August 2014 deliveries to farms were down by some 29% against the same period in 2013. This is a shortfall of over 132,000 tonnes year on year. Last year’s total market saw fertiliser deliveries totalling 1.8 million tonnes up to the end of the critical application period in Q1. Thus the increased pressure on logistics next year is forecast to be severe.

“Deliveries are down due to a number of factors, including lack of on-farm storage and cashflow concerns. However, this situation is a great cause for concern given predictions by the Road Haulage Association of a shortage of qualified drivers in the first quarter of next year – the critical period for fertiliser supplies,” said David Caffall, AIC Chief Executive speaking at the Confederation’s Annual Fertiliser Dinner in London. “In practice, the sooner fertiliser orders are placed, the more likely farmers are to receive deliveries on time.”

A RHA email survey conducted in September 2014 found that 70% of the 360 respondents said they were suffering a driver shortage and a further 20% said they expected to do so soon. Only 11% felt their business was not and would not suffer a shortage of LGV drivers.

“The survey drew strong response from larger members. The UK faces the prospect of a damaging shortage of haulage capacity, due to a shortage of drivers who have a valid LGV driving licence,” says the Association in its submission to HM Treasury ahead of the Autumn Statement 2014.

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