Opinion

BASF must compensate farmers following its ‘vitamins’ debacle

How come BASF was allowed to develop a 40% share of the EU’s vitamins market, where the production of animal feeds is concerned?

This is one of the staggering realisations that has come to light in the wake of the recent fire that destroyed a BASF plant in Germany. The factory specifically manufactures vitamins A and E. As a consequence, there is now talk of these crucially important feed ingredients being ‘rationed’ across Europe until the end of next March.

In response to all of this, feed compounders have gone into a right old tail spin with many predicting that ration prices will have to rise in order to reflect the upward movement in vitamin prices that will kick-in while the ‘emergency’ lasts.

OK, so the feed compounders have to do what they have to do. Supply of any product will always determine its price. But, surely, the EU has to explain why BASF was allowed to ‘own’ such a significant chunk of the vitamins market in the first place.

From what I am hearing, one single incident is now holding Europe’s entire animal feed industry to ransom.

But, of course, it will be farmers who pay all the associated bills at the end of the day.

They are the final users of the vitamins that feature within the compounds used to feed all the various classes of livestock.

I am pretty certain that there are EU regulations in place that prevent monopolies – of any kind – developing. So why weren’t they implemented when it came to BASF building up its share of the vitamins’ sector?

There is also a requirement on BASF to come out and, at the very least, make some sort of financial gesture to farmers, who will be much inconvenienced over the coming months. 

It’s up to the powers-that-be within BASF to come up with a realistic plan in order to make this happen.

As I understand it, the fire happened at the end of October. That’s coming up on two months ago. In the meantime, the silence from BASF has been pretty deafening.

Almost a fortnight after the fire, BASF issued a very short press release, confirming that the incident had happened and that ‘force majeure’  measures would be implemented with immediate effect, with regard to the supply of vitamins A and E from the company.

Given all of this, I think it would be more than appropriate for the company to update us all on what is actually happening right now in Germany and on the plans that are, hopefully, in place to reboot its production capacity as quickly as possible.

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