Farmer Focus : John Jeffrey 19/11/04

MARKETING THIS year’s grain is causing me real headaches, never mind selling next harvest’s produce.

I felt very pleased with myself when I received a cheque last month for some grain I sold forward at 88/t. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that clever because I still have the other 70% to sell.

Despite getting just under 90/t for my first batch, I will still end up averaging in the low seventies.

I can achieve that now for next year’s grain, so should I sell some forward at that price?

The market fluctuated by 90% from minimum to maximum last year, so we should obviously spend more time marketing our grain (the merchants already have their commission/margin built in) because that will have the biggest effect on our returns.

Fireworks day arrived early when I received the estimate for painting the farm steading. I should have suspected something when the painter arrived to price the job in a flash little sports car and then delivered the quote in a new Jaguar, merrily complaining that he was being forced to emigrate because he was paying too much tax.

His first quote, of £12,000, surprised me. But he had omitted several buildings and his final figure was a staggering £33,000. No wonder he has trouble with the Inland Revenue.

Needless to say, negotiations with the estate about it are still ongoing.

My oft-maligned neighbour turned out to be the proverbial Good Samaritan last weekend.

I was on my way to Murrayfield when I had a phone call to say that more than 100 of my ewe hoggs were on the main road.

Not only did he put them back into the field, he netted the fence for me. Many thanks. As one good turn deserves another, I will not mention his debut with his new sprayer.