23 October 1998

Straw shortage may not occur

DONT panic.

Thats the message to farmers worried about sourcing winter straw supplies.

Graham Baddeley, of Tayler and Fletcher, explains it was "business as usual" for summer baling, leaving a similar amount made to last season. "There wont be a vast difference in the quantity available."

Mr Baddeley is currently taking entries for the firms collective auction on Nov 27 at Stow-on-the-Wold where, last year, wheat averaged £31.50/t and barley straw £35/t.

Theres no rush to get it at present. "Some people prefer to keep the money in the bank and buy it on a hand-to-mouth basis."

Chelford auctioneer David Russell says the wet season has created a "perceived" shortage. But its not an "actual" shortage – and will not become so unless this turns out to be a long winter.

And the increased straw demand in the face of tighter stock cleanliness rules will be offset because fewer cattle are on farms than in the past, he adds.

Mr Russell says farmers should source some of their winter needs. "But dont stock up completely."

Wheat straw in small and big bales averaged £40/t and £30/t at Chelford on Monday, with barley at £62/t and £40/t respectively.

Christopher Trower, of the British Hay and Straw Merchants Association, also dismisses talk of a panic. "I have no indication that there is a shortage." &#42