Red tape and rising fuel costs have pushed up the cost of grain haulage across the UK, according to the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

In its latest annual haulage charge survey covering 217 trucking firms, the HGCA found an average cost increase of 4.5% compared to 2004.

That equates to an extra cost of 31p/t in a year when feed wheat values have rarely crept above £62/t.

The W Mids saw the largest regional increase, with average haulage rates rocketing 30% over short distances to £5.93/t.

The northeast of England also saw a steep climb for local haulage to £5.02/t.

The increases were even more marked for some journeys longer than 125 miles, where the southwest, the W Mids and the northeast all smashed the £10/t barrier.

Overall, though, cost inflation was felt most sharply on shorter hauls.

There was good news for farmers in Scotland, the North West and the Eastern Counties, where rates actually fell year-on-year.

Josh Dadd, market analyst at HGCA, said that was partly because last year’s costs had been skewed by the abnormally poor harvest, which saw large quantities of grain being trucked to the north.

“Quality has not been much of an issue this year.

“But what will affect costs next year is whether companies have factored in rising paperwork costs from the Working Time Directive.

“The trend is for haulage costs going up across the country.”

The results of the survey will be used by the Rural Payments Agency in setting intervention rates for the coming campaign.