Steve Bumstead farms
148ha (365-acre) from
Ouse Bank Farm, Great
Barford, Beds. He is a first
generation farmer and
council tenant, growing
combinable crops on three
blocks of land. He supports
LEAF and is the FWAG
HINDSIGHT is a wonderful thing; for instance, why oh why did I not buy a November 2002 option back in January?
For the past two years, I have used this method of hedging on about 60% of my anticipated wheat crop. Since then, of course, the grain markets have been in freefall, not just new crop market, but old season as well. What is worse, it seems this extreme bear market has caught out nearly all the traders too.
However, there is a lonely school of thought that anticipates a late-season rally. As my harvest 2001 wheat crop is locked into a Viking Cereals long pool, I can only hope our traders hit that elusive market. This is one white-knuckle ride I can do with out and it is severely trying my sense of humour – almost as much as the suggestion that we may end up with Stephen Byers at DEFRA.
Last week I attended the Newmarket round of the farmers weekly/BASF conferences. Although the delegate list read like a Whos Who of farming, I was invited too. The speakers were tip-top calibre with the most stimulating part of the day being the break-out group sessions.
Fixed costs, machinery replacement policy and labour were discussed and rents given an airing. As this is a subject dear to my heart, I was especially interested in David Bolton of Andersons suggestion that the sale value of a tonne of wheat, feed of course, say in December of a given year, should be used for FBT rent reviews or as a tender formula.
As a farmer who both wishes and needs to expand this looks a fair and common sense method. Whether or not it finds favour with the land agent brogue brigade remains to be seen.
By the time you read this, I hope to have finished drilling Chablis spring wheat. The land was still ploughing up wet last week and required a few days drying wind ahead of the Kongskilde combination drill. *
Grain markets are one white-knuckle ride Steven Bumstead says he could do without. But why not base rents on feed wheat values?