Farmers must insist on Irish grain in feed rations – IFA
The IFA made the remarks in response to the continued use and increasing volumes of imported grain being used in Irish feed rations.

Farmers who buy compound feed rations must insist on the use of Irish grains. The call came from IFA Grain Committee Chairman Mark Browne after recent revelations that some feed merchants are now producing rations which contain little or no Irish grain and have replaced it with maize grain from non-EU sources.

Browne stated that Irish tillage farmers are angry at the reduction in the use of Irish grains, considering Irish wheat and in particular barley is still readily available in store.

“We are forecast to import in excess of 1.3mt of maize for the current marketing year with the majority of this originating in Canada, Brazil and the Ukraine,” he continued.

Level playing field

Low maize prices continue to undermine much of the demand for native wheat and barley.
Low maize prices continue to undermine much of the demand for native wheat and barley.
Through the acceptance of grain imports without demanding an equivalence in environmental or production standards, it has created an unlevel playing field for Irish tillage farmers.

Browne stated how Irish growers are forced to compete with non-EU feedstuffs which have regulatory and competitive advantages in relation to GM technology, fertiliser costs and use of plant protection products.

This has resulted in a reduction of 67,500 ha in the area planted with main cereal crops, which represents a drop of over 20% in the past 10 years, he says.

EU Commission hypocrisy

Browne pointed towards the hypocrisy of the EU Commission who have increased the regulatory burden on local cereal producers while allowing increased access to non-EU feedstuffs produced to different standards.

He said that the acceptance of different standards at an Irish and EU level for native and imported grains cannot be tolerated.

Furthermore, Irish tillage farmers have been disproportionately affected by the current CAP due to convergence and greening measures, and he reiterated that any further reduction in supports under CAP 2020 cannot be tolerated.

Political action

Tillage farming has become a vulnerable sector and in order to prevent further decline in the area, urgent political action is needed at local and EU level, Browne concluded.

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Farmers need to be adequately compensated for growing malting barley – IFA

Grain prices: a spring of discontent for farmers over imports

Grain prices: has the decline slowed or stopped?
EU futures wheat prices have strengthened slightly this week, but there is still little on which to base optimism for prices.

International grain prices differed either side of the Atlantic in the past week, with Chicago prices continuing downwards and MATIF prices slightly improved. There has been little to reverse the recent downward trend.

One of the main pressures on global wheat prices is competition between Black Sea, US and EU origin for export markets. Recent forecasts suggest that the EU may make or exceed its export targets for wheat, but the US is less likely, with stocks there set to rise.

It would seem that the milling premium for wheat is stretching away from feed, as feed wheat prices weaken in search of demand, while good milling wheat is scarce.

Meanwhile, new-crop futures wheat prices continue to fall in anticipation of a larger global wheat crop this year, which is mainly driven by the higher area planted. So now the yield from this area, coupled with the ongoing revisions of stock levels, are likely to be more significant drivers of market sentiment from here on.

Native prices remain broadly similar for spot wheat and barley this week, but there is a lack of real demand in the current circumstances. Nearby wheat remains around €205 to €208/t, with barley in the €190 to €192/t bracket. But finding a buyer is difficult.

November prices are weaker, in line with international markets. Dry wheat is indicated at around €182 to €185/t, with barley around €172 to €175/t.

IFA potato report: planting stalled as soils reach saturation
IFA potato market report Tuesday 12/03/2019.

Comment: The continuation of the inclement weather has ensured demand has remained robust. Planting has come to a complete halt, as soils have become saturated. Between indoor and outdoor early crops, there is a significant area now planted, with the first of the outdoor crop now fully emerged.

Based on last year’s consumption figures for earlies and at normal yield levels, it could be argued that there is now enough planted to meet the potential demand of the market. In mainland Europe, planting of the early processing crop is well advanced for the time of year.

Physical prices continue to hold firm and very similar to last week. European processing April 2019 has been edging higher again over the past week to trade at €312/t, with a contract high of €333/t. In France, the export market is reported to be good, with demand for whites from eastern Europe and Germany and also for red varieties for Hungary, Romania and Portugal.

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Potato growers to lose key active for battling wireworms

IFA potato report: early planting grinds to a halt

New malting barley deal offers better value for growers - Boortmalt
Agreement on a new malting barley agreement is close according to officials from Boortmalt, who met with the Irish Farmers Journal this week.

Following recent confusion surrounding the malting barley price negotiations, the Irish Farmers Journal met with Boortmalt on Tuesday of this week.

Boortmalt officials believe that the new pricing structure offers better value and transparency to Irish growers.

The new offer uses the European malting barley market pricing index, the FOB Creil (export price at Creil, France), as a reference market which replaces the milling wheat MATIF-based pricing structure.

While there is still no deal reached between the maltster and the IFA, Boortmalt officials indicated that they were close to reaching an agreement.

However, in the absence of an agreement with the IFA, growers can still sign up to the deal offered last month, which is based on an average grain price of the FOB Creil between April and September.

Irish malting barley growers already command a significant premium over their European counterparts, Boortmalt said.

Malting barley is typically sold on the FOB Creil at 14.5% moisture content across Europe. However, in Ireland, malting barley can be sold green up to 20% moisture content.

The new market reference is based off the FOB Creil market.

This 5.5% difference in moisture content is in itself a premium, as Irish growers don’t incur the cost of drying, they stated.

When looking at the market value of malting barley and making it comparable in terms of quality and moisture content, Irish farmers are gaining a premium of up to €40/t in some cases in comparison with their European counterparts.

Preferential deals

In addition to this, Irish growers have received preferential deals and offers. Growers had the option to sell up to 20% of their contract at €230/t last September and another open offer to sell an amount of their contract at €190/t last month. No other European growers were offered these prices, they said.

In February, the IFA rejected Boortmalt’s proposed pricing structure, asking for a minimum price of €200/t to be paid for malting barley. Currently, growers have until 15 March to sign up to the price agreement which was announced last month. While this deadline may be extended, this has not yet been confirmed by Boortmalt.

Farmers who do not sign up to the deal can hedge barley throughout the season

Farmers who sign the contract will be paid the average FOB Creil price in the period from April to September.

A signed contract means the grower will not carry the risk of being penalised where the required yield or spec are not met.

Farmers who do not sign up to the deal can hedge barley throughout the season, but they will be contractually obliged to deliver that tonnage or pay the difference in the market value.

Bortmalt stated that there is little tangible benefit from Irish versus imported barley for malting, other than its marketing value.

They went on to state that their customers have a limit on the price that they are willing to pay for Irish malt which challenges the premium Irish growers can receive.

Maize imports rose significantly in 2018.

The premium we get is typically the cost of importing.

While Irish malt customers may not wish to use imported malting barley, they are happy with the quality of the malt produced from imports.

That’s why Boortmalt believes that moving to the FOB Creil reference will provide Irish growers with a good premium while making it viable for its customers to choose Irish over imports.