Livestock Farmer Focus: Jolyon Higgs tracks rising input costs

Last month’s Royal Welsh Show was a success even though the downpour on Tuesday turned the main ring into a sea of mud.

 The caterers and management committee do a fantastic job. The event means many different things to those attending. The stewards work tirelessly so it runs smoothly, the exhibitors are there to sell their wares or exhibit livestock, and there are those who come for a week’s holiday. Many are also “non farmers” who go for a day out.

However there is always room for improvement and I think, for many, the new food hall was a disappointment. One person described it to me as a “food prison”. I think the building is fine, but the layout needs to be more open plan, like a street market.

Income from wool accounts for about 1-2% of Cwmfron’s gross income and an even smaller percentage in Gower. The wool cheque in recent years has failed to cover shearing costs. Last year we achieved a final price of 48p/kg; with 12p paid down and the balance arriving a year later. This year we are told prices have risen. However the advance is still only 14p.

I understood that 50% was to be paid on delivery and the balance a year later. Why are we only receiving about 25% of the value as an advance?

As I order supplies for the coming year I am alarmed at how much input costs have risen. Tractor fuel is up 25%, nitrogen 14% and feed barley 15%. Straw will be more expensive and therefore our main costs have risen. Higher grain and straw prices are excellent news for the Gower farm, but their fuel costs are far greater, as is their SFP.

Rain has arrived, and although it was needed it has halted silage harvest, and barley is desiccated but not combined. Grass, however, has started to grow vigorously.

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