Concern at feed cost rises

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Farmers have this week been contacting Farming Life to raise concerns over the rise in compound feed costs in recent weeks.

One farmer who contacted this newspaper said he was concerned at the recent rises and asked if manufacturers were trying to take advantage at a time of slow grass growth and when farmers have run out of forage.

In response a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Grain Trade said the effect of weather events on the global market for feed materials is starting to impact on local livestock farmers as we come into the summer season.

He added: “New contracts for supplies of soya and soya products are costing substantially more as competition increases to secure a share of a much reduced harvest in Argentina. The 2017 harvest produced 57 million tonnes but the effect of a prolonged dry period over the harvest season has reduced the 2018 crop to around 37 million tonnes. Argentina is the principal supplier of soymeal and soya hulls into Ireland and the reduction in tonnage has pushed up prices on both commodities.

“The US trade war with Russia is also having an effect as President Trump’s attempt to inflict tariffs on imports of steel and other products from China has been met with a strong response in the form of a 25% levy on the two million tonnes of soya shipped from the USA to China every week.

“This has encouraged Chinese buyers to look to South America to source their soya and they have added some more pressure to an already overheated market. All proteins have pushed upwards in the wake of the surge in soya prices with rapeseed and the mid proteins moving in sympathy,” he added.

The spokesperson said concerns about reduced harvests and tighter grain supplies are also pushing up cereal prices with barley and maize posting substantial gains.

He added: “The weakness of sterling is another factor driving up the price of imported materials. The expectation of an increase in interest rates failed to materialise following recent inflation figures and the value of sterling drifted from $1.42 to $ 1.35 in the last month or so.

“This adds substantially to the province’s feed bill and will be reflected in increases, particularly on the higher protein poultry, pig and dairy rations.”