By Robert Harris

ARABLE farmers will be able to sell grain over the internet from the middle of next month.

Glencore Grain is launching a live trading site, the first of its type in the UK, on 14 June.

Using the site, called “grainman”, farmers will be able to offer cereals, oilseeds and pulses when they wish, and, if the price is acceptable, make an instant trade, says the company.

With a few clicks of the mouse, commodity, tonnage, and time of movement are entered.

Seconds later, an ex-farm price appears on the screen.

Glencore claims that, being post-code specific, the system offers the best price available for each farm.

Farmers are becoming more exposed to volatile world markets, says trader Robert Kerr.

“To make a real impact on farm incomes they have to make better management decisions at buying and selling their crops.”

The site provides live currency market information, and displays London, Chicago and Paris futures prices – the same tools which traders use.

This, coupled with regular market updates and commentary from Glencore traders, keeps growers abreast of the market.

That is critical, says Mr Kerr. For example, the London wheat futures price for May 2000 peaked at 84/t a year ago.

At its recent low, it slumped to 65/t. “Thats a 19 spread for one month. It is our aim to try and get as many farmer into the top quartile of prices as we can.”

Although it has set no targets, Glencore believes that 10-20% of its 11,000 farmer customers could use the system in the first year, trading about 100,000t of grain.