Farmer Focus: Prices are depressing for Andrew Hunter

Andrew Hunter is MD for the UK-owned Magyar Farming Co, which in Hungary grows 3000ha (7400 acres) of combinable crops and potatoes, has 900 dairy cows and runs a potato packing business. It also farms in Serbia and the Ukraine

The joy of farming in central Europe.

The government appears to have a cash crisis as it’s not making payments overdue by up to a year and that’s hitting everyone’s cash flows.

Grain merchants are trying to break contracts made at high prices, especially for sunflowers, knowing that paying the 20% penalty and buying at the current market price is a much better option.

We’ve made quite good progress on the potatoes, with over half lifted, and it looks like we’ll fill the new store. The only down-side is the very low price – the equivalent of £125/t for washed and packed deliveries to our supermarket customer. At this level, even with good yields, it’s very depressing.

Local farmers are contracted to supply us at this time of year, but at the price we pay them I’d be surprised if they will do so again.

Feed wheat has hit a new low of £52/t – if you can find a buyer. New crop grain maize is trading even lower. Being a natural optimist, I don’t believe they can drop much more.

We’re nearing completion of our drier building in Serbia and harvesting good yields of grain maize, and we’ve sown nearly 2000ha of oilseed rape and more than 1000ha of winter cereals in the Ukraine.

The story is the same in all our markets with buyers very thin on the ground and depressed prices.

Our dairy manager has resigned to seek new pastures adding to my workload until we recruit a replacement.

Agco have been to look at our combines in the Ukraine and the ball is now in their court as to whether we come to an agreement on compensation and putting the combines right, i.e. providing what was contracted, or we end up settling in the courts.

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