Farmer Focus: Richard Crewe February column - Farmers Weekly

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Farmer Focus: Richard Crewe February column

I must be the only Canadian farmer who wants the wheat price to fall.

Why? Last year I grew 500t of AC Vista low protein soft white wheat for feed/ethanol use.

In September, when doing a Canadian Wheat Board Basis Contract, I put a cross against the wrong type.

That simple mistake will cost me, were I to buy that contract out now, over £22,000.

The Canadian Grain Commission classifies wheat by acronyms under seven types.

Canadian Western Red Spring, Canada’s renowned high protein milling wheat, is CWRS. Our AC Vista is CPSW (Canada Prairie Spring White). I marked it CWSWS (Canada Western Soft White Spring).

The two are similar, but CWSWS has a characteristic pitta bread bakers apparently like.

To compound the issue, CWSWS is only traded in Chicago and CPSW only on the Kansas exchange.

Red flags started to show when enquiries about moving some of this wheat brought the error to light.

Requests for help and advice from the CWB, the organisation which claims to work for farmers, have been singularly unhelpful. It offered no other position except buy-out and then selling into the pool with its lower average returns.

The CWB is clearly focused on its own interests and its own survival above the individual farmer.

It recently stopped any futures contracts for the 2008 crop because of the wild wheat markets, and it persists like an ostrich with its head in the sand with its dressed up “Cash Plus” single desk pool selling of malt barley, while completely ignoring the government’s requests to being party to legislation to free up that market.

So with snow still lying and sub-zero temperatures, Jane and I are off for couple of weeks to warmer climes, like the Grand Canyon, though not to throw myself over the edge.

Farmer Focus: Richard Crewe February column

Last week was Brandon Ag Days, the prairie farmer’s biggest winter indoor machinery show and with the current good prices, most farmers there were like little boys in a toy shop.

Our visiting group consisted of my Canadian neighbour, a Scotsman, a newly emigrated Dutchman and me – an Englishman. There must be a joke in there somewhere.

The Canadian tried to claim he was the poorest, but we travelled in a newly acquired, very plush SUV he had just got from Florida.

The joke was that he forgot to turn the lights off when we got there. The resulting dead battery was revived by another farmer who prudently in this weather had jumper cables with him.

The Dutchman was trying to decide what sort of no-till seeder to buy.There were row spacings from 175mm to 300mm, side placement to mid-row banding of fertiliser, liquid, dry or anhydrous, and through every design of opener imaginable.

I was looking to replace our 27-year-old tandem grain truck before the cab either falls apart from rust or my feet drop off from frost bite.

There were dealers in good second-hand highway trucks present and firms that build and fit new grain boxes.

Fertiliser prices have increased by an average 27% this winter. So we’ve taken delivery of as much of our dry fertiliser as we can store plus another 42t of liquid N at £172/t.

Enough Morgan oats for 190ha and 55t of hard red spring wheat variety Superb for 400ha have been cleaned.

My only show purchase was a £20 tool to release oil pressure from hydraulic hose couplings without spraying one’s clothes from head to toe. Jane was pleased!

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