Farmer Focus: Harvest was mere sideshow in financial turmoil, says Richard Crewe

Our harvest ended on 18 October. There were still 20ha (50 acres) of oats to do when we had 10cm of snow on 11 October, but fortunately that melted and the weather stayed dry and windy for us to finish.

However, that all seems a mere sideshow beside events unfolding in the world financial markets.

Is it too much to ask an honest banker to explain how they came to this? I suspect most don’t even know or care now that they are being bailed out to become government employees.

At least the Canadian banking system seems more stable than most. But have we reached the bottom yet with commodities and stocks in meltdown?

How should we try to market this year’s crop in these turbulent conditions?

What’s galling is that while grain prices have fallen, inputs remain astronomically high.

Sulphur fines (21:0:0:24), which we normally spread on next year’s Canola fields about now, are £260/t against £136/t last year.

I have more than a sneaking suspicion that the elevators and other suppliers, who for most of the summer were badgering farmers to pre-buy next year’s fertiliser due to rising prices, have been sucked in by their own promotions.

Having committed and filled their stores, they’re now hoist with their own petards and trying to pass their mistakes on to farmers.

Fertiliser will be a tough sell and I think I may wait for the spring fire-sale.

There are two saving graces in this mess. The Canadian dollar, having lost 25% of its value against the US dollar in a month, is cushioning falling prices.

The USA is still where 75% of Canadian commodity exports go and we have a saying “When you sleep next to an elephant, mind he doesn’t roll on you”.

The other saving? People still need to eat.

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