A rising tide of red tape and increasingly expensive road fuel has pushed up the cost of grain haulage across the UK, says the Home-Grown Cereals Authority.

In the latest of its annual haulage charge surveys, which covered 217 trucking firms, the HGCA found an average cost increase of 4.5% compared with 2004.

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

The largest regional increase was in the West Midlands, which saw average haulage rates rocket as much as 30% for short distances to 5.93/t.

The north east 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 south west, the West Midlands and the north east all breached the 10/t barrier.

But overall, cost inflation was felt most sharply on shorter hauls.

There was good news for farmers in Scotland, the north west and the east, 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.”

sam.fortescue@rbi.co.uk