Farmer Focus: Seth Pascoe makes trip down memory lane

This last month has been very quiet here at North Paddock.

We have managed to move some winter wheat and durum, although disputes over grades and the downward spiralling pool return outlook mean this isn’t a particularly positive activity. Moving snow around the yard with the JCB is almost more endearing.

The lack of return for soft wheat from the Canadian Wheat Board has motivated us to seek alternative markets. We can sell grain to local pig farmers and still achieve more than the CWB pooled price. The board said it will struggle to move soft wheat on the prairies this year, but will happily charge us $6/t (£3.67/t) for breaking contract and not marketing through them. They are charging us for choosing not to lose money through them – unbelievable.

Those pesky neighbours to the south in Idaho chose to ignore the advice of the United Potato Growers of America to freeze acres and, instead, increased potato plantings last season. This resulted in a huge surplus and is the main reason for the rumoured contract reductions across North America this season. Farmers are their own worst enemies sometimes.

On a recent whirlwind return trip to Britain I was surprised how green everything was. I’m clearly far too accustomed to the white Canadian winters. In Cornwall there were snowdrops in the hedgerows, lambs scampering in the fields and plenty of ploughs moving.

Returning to Alberta I admit I looked longingly at the potato planter, but it’s still partly buried by a snow drift. Unfortunately our season is still awhile away yet. However, the price of fuel in the UK is frankly so ridiculous that it’s almost comical. That alone motivated me to jump back on the plane. I won’t disclose the price of fuel here – it would only depress you.

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