Farmer Focus: Jim Alston dismayed at wheat price slide

I just came down from wee Kirkaldy,

I’m no very good with sums or money,

The voters shout it’s not so funny,

Gordon where’s your trousers?

Let the tax go high and income low,

Round the world my debt will blow,

All the bankers say hello,

Gordon where’s your trousers?

(Apologies to Andy Stewart.)

The Conservatives were kicked out because they couldn’t keep their trousers up. Now the Labour party have lost theirs altogether.

What’s worse is I may well lose mine if the wheat price continues its horrible downward trend. Harvest pressure exacerbated by grain unsold from last year is a big problem.

Malting barley looks the best quality for years and the maltsters are still sitting on stuff from last year, so any extra to contract is worth little.

I watched the wheat price slide in a state of catatonic inaction until I fixed it way off the peak.

The trouble is that this turnaround will affect all negotiations, be they for sugar beet, potatoes or anything else; and while some input prices have fallen, the overall cost of producing a crop hasn’t changed much.

Where are all those hungry people when you need them? Moving this cereal crop is a priority and doing so will take a supreme effort – failing will prolong low prices that benefit nobody.

That effort must start now and all need to be involved, including the levy board and DEFRA with accurate information.

Thinking about next year what should I change?

A few more bull beef? If the recession takes another dip, that may be a mistake. DEFRA may well get its set-aside – plus some.

Maybe I should diversify – into kilts for the trouser-less perhaps; but, then, I suspect they wouldn’t be much good in a barley field – those awns get everywhere.

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