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Volume 961: debated on Monday 22 January 1979

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied with current stocks and supply of fertilisers; and what are his main areas of concern and to what parts of the country they apply.

The road haulage strike is affecting the manufacture and distribution of fertilisers just as it is affecting other industries, and my Department is in daily touch with the situation. Shortage of raw materials and of storage space at the factories for finished products are the main problems. So far, however, most fertiliser manufacturers have been able to continue with at least some production and I have received few reports of closures. Deliveries from manufacturers are, however, running on average at only 20–40 per cent. of last year's levels. This is not yet the time of peak fertiliser demand and farmers should not, therefore, be finding the current restrictions on supply an immediate problem, although it is important that deliveries for the spring sowing season should be able to begin soon.