RECORD RETURNS at Grainfarmers this year have left shareholders with a dividend windfall.

Pre-tax profits are up at £1,009,000 compared to £790,000 the year before, and around a quarter has already been returned to farmers.

Chairman Andrew Christie-Miller said: “The Board decided to advance the payment of this year‘s dividend to October in view of the current low ex-farm prices for feed grains.”

Trade for the year to June 30 was worth £461m, almost double the firm‘s £241m throughput in 2002-03.
 
Managing director Tim Pollock said that higher grain prices, organic growth and the acquisition of Dalgety‘s grain marketing business were behind the rise.

Dalgety had added £80-90m to Grainfarmers‘ turnover, he added.

“Despite lower than average 2003 wheat crop, the business has performed well with grain marketing volumes rising from 2.48m tonnes to 3.85m tonnes to give Grainfarmers an estimated 20% of the UK grain market,” said Mr Pollock.

A survey of farms‘ planting plans will be made in Dec, but there is little evidence so far of an exodus by growers in the wake of the single farm payment which kicks in on Jan 1.

“My gut feeling is that we are down on barley and up on rapeseed,” said Mr Pollock.