Farm Ireland

Thursday 14 December 2017

Survey throws up plenty of talking points

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The Farming Independent survey carried out at last week's National Ploughing Championships in New Ross turned up a few talking points.

On the tillage side, the obvious reluctance of farmers to forward sell grain next year was clearly stated.

While 40pc of tillage growers sold grain forward last year, that figure could fall below 30pc next year.

One serious grower I spoke to recently made out the family had been selling grain forward for the past 11 years and had failed to make a margin apart from one or two occasions.

That is not a good record and it does little for the argument that it is in growers' interests to sell a percentage of their grain forward so as to take some of the volatility out of the trade.

The irony is that the greater activity in forward markets has exacerbated price volatility further and made the markets a gamble for hedge funds rather than a true trading platform.

There were also interesting findings from the dairy questions. The fact that just 62pc of dairy farmers intend to increase milk production after quotas go in 2015 and half of these aim to limit expansion to 20pc is noteworthy.

Dairy farmer confidence has been shaken this year by the fall in milk prices and increase in input costs. However, with dairy markets continuing to strengthen, farmer sentiment could improve over the coming 12 months.

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The survey also highlighted once again the divisive nature of GM technology even for farmers. While a clear majority supported Teagasc's decision to go ahead with the GM potato trials at Oakpark, there was no great enthusiasm for embracing GM technology. Just 45pc of respondents said Ireland should fully adopt GM.

Probably the question of the week from a farmers' point of view related to the IFA's Day of Action.

The survey highlighted the level of anxiety that exists on how non-farmers will view the planned demonstration in Dublin. The perception among the public at large is that farming is one of the stronger sectors in the economy.

The public will want to know exactly why farmers are protesting.

Indo Farming