Farmer Focus: Wintry weather should help lift feed prices, says David Shepherdson

Santa’s little helpers delivered the single farm payment just before Christmas, for which we were very thankful, but inevitably it was spent just as quickly as it arrived.

Malting barley is now being sold, or rather given away, at prices close to £90/t. You would expect a rush of lorries to collect it but we are into the second week of January and our December-sold loads are still heaped in the barn.

I wonder if this prolonged spell of wintry weather will push up prices of feed and oilseed rape? We’ve been under snow for the best part of a month and getting through much more of this weather will necessitate livestock units buying in extra feed which should, in turn, lift prices.

Our muck-for-straw agreement with another local farmer seems to be paying off. There are clearly visible differences between two of our neighbouring fields of stubble turnips; the one that had muck spread on it during the spring of 2009 is far greener and twice as tall.

I am very much looking forward to my annual trip to LAMMA this month. It makes for an excellent day out, even considering the often-miserable weather. Much of the exhibition is under cover or at least on a hard-standing, and what farmer can resist the offer of a free day out? I’ll be drawing up my wish list for when I win the lottery.

I am hopeful for a period of greater stability for farming in the coming year. Boom and bust prices are no use to any business. Cereal prices simply must rise to enable reinvestment, as there is always something that needs replacing or upgrading; the list grows ever longer and there is a limit to the amount of home-maintenance we can give to our old grain dryer.

Here’s to a prosperous New Year for everyone.

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