February farm input prices on the rise

Results from the February Inputs Price Monitor confirm the upward movement in feed and fertiliser prices since the turn of the year, while fuel and water costs appear to have weakened slightly.

At first glance, the price of ammonium nitrate appears to be some way below the actual spot market rate. But this is more a reflection of the fact that some farmers responding to the survey have been quoting for product that was booked before Christmas and only delivered in February.

“There are two peaks in the data we have been receiving; we believe one is for orders that were pre-booked and one is for spot purchases,” explains NFU inputs adviser Pete Garbutt. “Concentrating on the second group, the average price paid in February came to £216/t, though even this is likely to include some imported material.

“To compensate for this, future reports will provide a detailed breakdown to provide more clarity between reported spot prices and responses that are based on delivered goods where the price may have been agreed in previous months.”

Similar divergence has also been seen in the prices reported for white diesel, with one group of results clustered around 94p/litre and another around 112p/litre.

“This can be explained by the difference between bulk deliveries on farm and garage forecourt prices and correspond to AA and Freight Transport Association reports,” says Mr Garbutt.

Red diesel prices are seen slightly lower in February than in January at 46.9p/litre on average. But this is likely to be a temporary slip, with gas oil reportedly firming in March, and Brent crude oil now quoted at over $80/barrel compared with $70/barrel a month ago.

The IPM survey also indicates that animal feed prices have firmed, in part due to the weakening of sterling putting up the price of imports, with 16% protein ewe nuts averaging £190/t (+£8) and 18% dairy concentrate at £182/t (+£6).

Water prices, however, have softened, with IPM participants reporting an average 118p/cu m, down 8p on the January average.

As ever, it is important that sufficient numbers of farmers take part in the IPM survey each month, to guarantee the quality of the data. So if you’ve not done so already, please click on the following link and take part in the March survey.