Farm Ireland

Thursday 19 April 2018

Sowings in doubt as prices tumble

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Tillage farmers are in turmoil following the latest move in grain trading, which predicts a green grain price of €85/t for feed barley this harvest.

The combination of falling forward grain prices and rising fertiliser prices has left thousands of tillage farmers wondering whether to sow any crop this spring.

Price indications from the trade this week of €85/t for green feed barley and €95-105/t for wheat off the combine would see many growers lose up to €50/t on grain produced.

The price of CAN is continuing to rise, with some quotes of €235-240/t being touted. However, better deals at €205-215/t are still being agreed by some farmers.

IFA grain chairman Noel Delaney insisted that growers needed a minimum grain price guarantee before sowing this season.

"Any farmer who puts a plough in the ground in the absence of a minimum price guarantee is gambling his single farm payment and more," he warned.

"Pressure from the trade to increase fertiliser prices in recent days will exacerbate these losses," he added.

Mr Delaney advised farmers to look at alternative options that would give better returns, including a clover/grass ley, alternative crops, farm-to-farm sales or simply leaving it as ley ground.

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Oilseed rape contracts at €240-250/t and peas at €250/t are also available, albeit in a limited market.

"Grain farmers are no longer prepared to gamble their single farm payment in the hope that markets may turn come harvest," insisted Mr Delaney.

Europe is expected to have a carry-over stock of 11m tonnes of barley by June, a figure that is double the stock level of the 2008/2009 harvest. Combined with large world feed and milling grain stocks, this is expected to limit any upside potential for grain in the medium term.

"The trade needs to wake up or seal their own fate. Irish input prices for fertiliser, seed and agri-chemicals are seriously out of line with our competitors," warned Mr Delaney.

"No growers can afford to take a hit of up to €50/t. UK and French farmers can use price risk management tools, such as forward selling and minimum price contracts to maximise their incomes. The majority of Irish growers are being denied this opportunity," he said.

Irish Independent