Farmers Focus: Financial turbulence continues for Andrew Hunter

After a wet March and a non-existent spring we’re entering summer with temperatures to 25C. But wet patches mean we still haven’t got fertiliser on to all the winter cereals. However, with prices falling we’ve been able to buy it for considerably less than usual.

Potato planting is in full swing in Hungary, with the new combination of auto-guide tractor, bed-tiller and planter working well at close to 1ha/hr.

We’ve started planting grain maize in good conditions in Serbia and hope to finish all spring planting there by the end of April.

In the Ukraine we’re on target to meet our objectives. The buildings there are being renovated for the grain harvest and at least that bit’s under our control. The Agco repairs/missing parts we’re waiting for are promised – but seeing is believing.

The financial turbulence isn’t any easier, with the Hungarian banks trying to increase the margins over base rate on existing borrowing again, and agricultural merchants being very cautious in providing credit. In the Ukraine and Serbia nearly everything has to be paid for in advance.

The dairy company is pushing for further cuts in the milk price from the current 20p/litre, which with a housed system is well below the cost of production.

The Hungarian ministry of agriculture is increasing farmers’ paperwork. We now have to provide weekly reports of what work we have carried out and what we plan to do in the next week.

We were invited to a ministry meeting to discuss subsidies for livestock producers and were unfortunate enough to be served coffee with German milk.

The local police are trying to collect more money for the government, having decided that every agricultural machine with an axle needs an MOT and number plate. We’re still arguing about its interpretation of the law on this.

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