The Irish Farmers Journal undertook a grain trading survey with readers at the end of 2024. The survey covered everything from prices received to how farmers sell their grain and who they sell it to. In this article we share some of those results.

It will come as no surprise that the majority of Irish farmers sell their grain green and at harvest. The majority move it straight from the combine to the grain intake.

Who do farmers sell their grain to?

Fifty-four per cent (Figure 1) of those surveyed delivered the majority of their grain to a private merchant; 24% said they deliver to a co-op, while 22% deliver to both a private merchant and a co-op.

Delivering grain

A whopping 54% of growers said that they deliver their grain to the buyer immediately from the combine; 10% deliver a few days after harvesting, while 17.5% said they store it for a few months.

Sixty-five per cent of farmers said that they receive no payment for delivering grain, while 15% said they do receive a payment for delivery. A further 20% said that the purchaser provides transport for the grain.

Where a payment was provided the amount paid ranged from €6-8/t and some of these farmers specified that the delivery payment was for seed crops.

Only 31% of tillage farmers who took part in the survey store grain, while 69% do not.

Selling grain

Of those farmers who store grain 9% forward sell their grain; 36% sell at spot prices throughout the year, while 55% do a mixture of both.

Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed that store grain said that they sell to a merchant, 20% to a co-op and 13% to a trader or broker. No one surveyed who stored grain said that they sell to another farmer.

The majority, 67.5%, of farmers said that they sell all of their grain at harvest, while 32.5% sell at least some of their grain outside of harvest time (Figure 2). Of the farmers that store grain 63% said that the buyer pays for the transport of the grain. Thirty-seven per cent have to organise the transport of their own grain.

Do Irish farmers forward sell grain?

The results on forward selling were surprising, but positive; 45% of survey respondents said that they forward sell grain (Figure 3).

This can take different forms and may be carried out in small amounts on some farms.

Some may sell their feed barley or wheat, while others may fix the price of their malting barley.

The majority of farmers said that they forward sell their grain with a private merchant; 8.7% forward sell grain with their co-op; 22% forward sell grain with both their co-op and a merchant, while 8.7% said that they forward sell grain with a broker or trader. Respondents were allowed to tick a number of options when naming the products that they forward sell. Sixty-four per cent of respondents said that they mainly forward sell feed grain; 46% forward sell premium grains; 32% forward sell oilseed rape and 18% forward sell or fix a price for beans.

While many farmers do not forward sell any grain, those who do forward sell, sell different percentages.

Five per cent sell less than 5%; 24% sell less than 30% of their grain, 19% sell less than 50% of their produce and 8% sell more than 50% of their grain (Figure 4).

When asked why they do not forward sell grain some of the respondents said:

  • It was too difficult to get a price.
  • They don’t know how to forward sell.
  • There were a lack of options and information.
  • Storage costs.
  • A number said that they forward sold previously and it worked out badly.
  • They thought the harvest price averages out better.
  • Those who forward sell said it gives them security, reduces risks and allows them to sell a proportion of their grain at a good price
  • There was huge variability in moisture bonuses and reductions.

    Most farmers specified amounts of €2/t, €2.50/t and €3/t to be added or deducted to their base price.

    When it comes to settling bills farmers have many different approaches.

    Of the farmers who responded to the survey 45% said they settle bills before harvest; 30% of farmers in the survey said that they hope to use their grain cheque to pay their bills with the merchant or co-op.

    A further 25% said that they pay some of the bill for inputs ahead of harvest time.