Straw trade hit by beef price collapse

Bumper harvest: Straw yields are on the rebound but prices are back by around €5 per bale for 4x4 bales due to slower demand from beef farmers. Photo: Alf Harvey.
Bumper harvest: Straw yields are on the rebound but prices are back by around €5 per bale for 4x4 bales due to slower demand from beef farmers. Photo: Alf Harvey.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Straw prices have eased back by €5-6/bale for 4x4 bales as slower demand from beef farmers has hit the trade.

Straw was bought in the east and south this week at €13-15/bale off the field. This is back from the €18-20/bale sought by growers at the start of the harvest.

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Traders contend that prices could fall further due to slower demand from the drystock sector, but growers are refusing offers below €13-14/bale.

Tillage farmers admitted that there have been fewer enquiries for straw to date from the livestock sector but claim that existing customers are taking stocks.

However, traders maintain there is far less demand for straw this year.

"There is no appetite for either hay or straw, and there is not much money around," one west of Ireland trader claimed.

He said the collapse in cattle prices meant that farmers were reluctant to commit to buying straw until the market had settled and they knew whether they definitely wanted it or not.

Straw yields have returned to normal this harvest, with 10 bales per acre being reported.

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Grain growers are hopeful that demand from mushroom composters will help put a floor on the straw market as the harvest progresses.

It is understood that agreements have been reached between the IFA and mushroom composters to secure local supplies of wheaten straw for €85-90/t.

Many growers who have already baled straw are refusing to take less than €13-14/bale and are filling sheds.

Some farmers are also opting to chop straw rather than bale it, particularly on owned land.

Ploughing in straw is estimated to be worth €100/ac in terms of retained Ps, Ks and organic matter.

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