Plunging commodity prices are not being mirrored by falls in one of farming’s most important input costs, namely fertiliser.
The issue is once again in the spotlight as producers weigh up shrinking harvest profits ahead of a summer crop season when planting equipment should be programmed to apply nitrogen and phosphorous, according to requirement.
Lobby groups are lining up to pillory fertiliser manufacturers for their lacklustre attempts to pare back the price of their core product amidst claims the price of urea is three times higher than it should be.
But a spokesman for Incitec Pivot Ltd refutes these claims, adding the company is preparing a detailed response to present to the Senate Select Committee, which currently is examining fertiliser and supply arrangements in both Australian and overseas markets.
This week, however, AgForce Grains policy director Lindsay Krieg revealed that new figures on fertiliser costing had been sent to the National Farmers’ Federation for presentation to the Senate Select Committee.
They note how the price of urea on the world market, based on the price of the product in the Middle East, rose to $US880 per tonne in August 2008, falling sharply since to settle at around $US250 per tonne over the past few weeks.
While the price drop for phosphorous has not been as great over as long a time period, Mr Krieg says it too is now trending down.