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EU releases grain stocks in move to curb feed costs

Up to 3m tonnes of grain are to be released from intervention stocks by the European Commission in an effort to curb rising feed costs to farmers.

The stock will be released on a phased basis from March to August next year, using a tendering system which has yet to be outlined.

There are close to 6m tonnes of grain held in intervention currently, including barley at 5.47m tonnes, 273,000t of soft wheat and 214,000t of maize.

The bulk of intervention stocks are held in Germany (1.68m tonnes), France (929,000t), Finland (845,000t) and Hungary (727,000t).

The European feed industry has been calling for intervention stocks to be released onto the grain market since prices began to rise in July.

Some players in the feed industry have also called for EU grain exports to be taxed.

Total grain exports from Europe are currently standing at 7.2m tonnes, some 2m tonnes higher than 2009 when 5.2m tonnes were exported and 400,000t higher than the 2008 export figure.

Net exports are running at 5.3m tonnes, compared to 2.9m tonnes in 2009.

European supplies are demand since grain from the Black Sea region, the biggest discounter in the world market, was halted.

However, the Commission's view is that imposing export taxes would further fuel the market and drive grain prices higher in the short term.

The feed industry is also calling for the levy on sorghum imports into the EU to be removed.

In the 12 weeks since the European harvest began, imports of sorghum into Europe have reached 66,000t, compared to just 1,000t in 2009.

Meanwhile, the International Grains Council has lowered its estimate for world maize production by 5m tonnes from last month's estimate to 824m tonnes. This figure is still 14m tonnes above 2009/10 production.

The fall is due mainly to lower than expected US maize production, down by 4m tonnes.

Irish Independent