The Federal Government has secured desperate supplies of urea, the key ingredient in diesel exhaust fluid, from Indonesia and the Middle East.
Advice provided by the Federal Government and suppliers to the National Farmers Federation (NFF) suggests there will be sufficient supplies of the diesel additive, AdBlue, beyond February, a crunch date for many.
The NFF issued a mayday call to Government voicing its concerns that AdBlue shortages had reduced the national supply to just six weeks.
NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar in a statement issued this week indicated that there was more urea on the way.
“We have been assured new supply has been secured from a wide range of sources including Indonesia and the Middle East,” he said.
“Local supplies are also being boosted,” said Mahar.
“This now must be business-as-usual in terms of AdBlue supplies on hand.”
Shortages commenced in Australia and other parts of the world when China, one of the the main producers of urea, shutdown exports as it closed several coal-fired power stations to clean up pollution ahead of the Winter Olympics.
A subsequent switch to gas-fired power saw many of China’s urea plants temporarily go offline as a result.
Greater certainty around supply is a relief to farmers who are harvesting a record winter grain crop and to the road transport industry, which is operating at full capacity ahead of Christmas.
Mahar said the AdBlue concerns had reiterated the need for an industry-government advisory board on critical supply chains (beyond the AdBlue issue) and the imperative to invest in the development of improved domestic manufacturing capabilities for key inputs such as fertiliser and chemical.
“For the past 18 months, farmers have been on a rollercoaster of angst fueled by uncertainty of access to the plant protection products, fertilisers and machinery they need to get the job done,” he said.
“We cannot leave these issues to chance anymore, we need our best and brightest from industry and government to anticipate and scenario plan for any potential imminent or future supply chain disruptions and build contingencies to ensure our industries and the Australian economy can withstand such headwinds.”
Mahar also noted that Incitec Pivot Fertilisers (Incitec Pivot) had acquired a majority stake in Australian Bio Fert (ABF) and would build Australia’s first large scale plant to develop and deliver a new category of sustainable fertilisers for Australian farmers.
“This is just the sort of development Australian agriculture needs more of to reduce our dependency on imported inputs. The NFF congratulates Incitec Pivot, under the leadership of President Stephan Titze, on its vision, investment and commitment to advancing the interests of Australian farmers,” said Mahar.
“We hope, aided by the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Fund, to see a whole lot more home-grown manufacturing ventures established, ideally in regional Australia,” he said.