6 December 1996

Farmers predict better livestock trade in 1997

MILD optimism in the milk and livestock sector is offset by pessimism in the arable sector, according to a survey of over 200 farmers by NatWest Bank.

The findings come from a Farming Forecaster of the Year competition, in which visitors to last weeks Royal Smithfield Show in London were asked to make 18 different predictions for the 12 months to Sep 1997.

In the dairy sector, farmers believed there would be a 4% drop in milk prices to 26p/litre. But this would be countered by a 10% drop in the quota purchase price (to 65p/litre)

Beef producers felt there would be a 12% recovery in the finished steer price to 105p/kg lw, while pigs and lambs were forecast to be little changed.

But arable farmers predicted a weaker trade, with the average suggestion for Sep 1997 feed wheat back 4% at £96/t ex-farm on this years value, and barley at £93/t.

In keeping with these sentiments, the price of arable land was expected to fall by 1.4% to £2464/acre, compared with a 7% gain for livestock land to £1602/acre. On average, the farmers predicted a 0.85% rise in bank base interest rates to 6.6%.