Farmers win glyphosate war

27 Feb, 2002 10:00 PM
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CHEAP Chinese imported glyphosate is still available to Australian farmers this week.

Federal Customs and Justice Minister Chris Ellison, announced last Thursday at the PGA Convention in Perth that he would dismiss claims by chemical manufacturer Monsanto Australia that imported glyphosate was being illegally dumped on the Australian market.

But regardless of the win - which effectively prevents a 167pc dumping duty being placed on glyphosate imports from China - farmers are being told the action has cost them up to $3 million in increased retail glyphosate prices.

According to NSW based wholesale chemical distributors AgCentral, farmers were forced to absorb retail price rises of between $0.20 and $0.75 a litre between October and December last year as a direct result of the action.

"The cost to Australian farmers was in excess of $1 million and could be as high as $3m," Matthew Durden, business development manager at AgCentral said.

In making his decision Minister Ellison supported the findings of an investigation completed by the Australian Customs Service in December last year.

The report found - contrary to Monsanto's claim - that while Roundup prices had fallen due to Chinese imports, Roundup (Monsanto's glyphosate product) sales by volume had actually increased.

The report also found that during the period Monsanto claimed it had suffered a loss, their cost of production had decreased by more than the sale price.

"By sticking to an inflexible pricing policy Monsanto lost market share, whilst lower prices have in fact grown the size of the market," Mr Durden said.

"This is basic economics and demonstrates efficient markets and not anti-competitive behaviour as claimed by Monsanto.

"The clear message hear is not that cheap glyphosate has been dumped in Australia, but that farmers are more interested in choosing product based on price, not brand," he said.

Queensland agripolitical group, AgForce Grains said it feared that even if glyphosate had doubled in price, the average grain producer, who uses 10,000 litres of glyphosate a year would have been slugged an extra $50,000.

"This decision helps protect the viability of Australia's grain industry by maintaining access to cost-competitive supplies of glyphosate which is the most widely used herbicide," AgForce Grains president Terry Sharp said.

"Glyphosate has been the foundation for production and environmental sustainability through minimum till, best practice farming systems."

"The introduction of a duty would have severely hit the hip pockets of all farmers and put at risk their efforts in maintaining the environmental benefits of reduced tillage and controlled traffic," he said.

Meanwhile the National Farmers Federation, Grains Council of Australia, and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Warren Truss, have all welcomed the decision saying it was great news for Australian farmers.

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