By FW Staff

ALL combinable crops will make a loss in Scotland next year if current prices remain in force, according to national merchant Dalgety. But the firm cautions against going for maximum set aside and points to a firming grain market.

Four boatloads, totalling 15,000t of low grade feed barley, have left Scotland for Holland in the past fortnight, says regional marketing manager Edward Rust, with the prospect of further orders.

“The prospects for price improvements seem reasonable and, if I was a farmer holding grain, I would not be inclined to sell at the moment,” he said, during the annual harvest review on Monday in Perth.

UK crop marketing manager Gary Hutchings was also bullish, pointing out that the EU commission was an aggressive seller on Third markets and that UK grain was again competitive following the slight weakening of sterling.

He said that the recent strength of sterling was an easy target for the 20 percent drop in prices during the past year. But it was not the only factor. Supply, demand, quality and a low French price had all played a part in the weakness of the market, accounting for at least £14/t of the price drop.

Scottish general manager Willie Fergusson warned against a headlong rush into maximum 50 percent set-aside. The figures might make sense if labour could be shed and the farm work was done by contractors. “But if a share of fixed costs has to be borne by the set-aside land, it will show a huge net loss,” he claimed.