Farmers hit by record straw prices

“You virtually want a Securicor escort to maneuver a load of straw up the motorway nowadays,” says farmer Michael Oakes.

His dairy farm, in Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, has suffered a lot from this winter’s poor climate, as have many farms within the nation.

The poor climate has prompted a spike in demand for straw, whereas final 12 months’s climate circumstances severely curtailed straw manufacturing. The mix has pushed the worth of each wheat and barley straw to file ranges.

In February, the common barley straw value in England and Wales was £90 a tonne, 73% from a 12 months earlier, whereas wheat straw was £81 a tonne, up 62%.

“All people’s financial institution accounts have taken a giant hit,” says Mr Oakes, who can also be the chairman of the Nationwide Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) Dairy Board.

Final 12 months’s dry spring meant a sparser crop. Very moist climate then restricted the variety of harvest days, curbing the crop additional.

Simon Dee Shapland, from straw provider Abbot & Co, defined that moist climate additionally affected the harvest in two different methods: “When straw will get moist within the very massive swathes left by the trendy mix harvesters, it is vitally tough to get it dry sufficient to bale.

“And that frustrates the farmer in re-sowing the fields once more. They typically determine to cut the remaining crop [back into the soil].”

On the demand aspect, that very same moist climate has saved livestock indoors for longer, that means a better want for bedding and feed.

Though straw producers have much less straw to promote, you’d suppose they might discover some aid within the larger costs. However not all of them can entry this.

Extra straw, which acted because the farmers’ reserve provide in years passed by is now used as biofuel, including to demand and serving to to maintain costs excessive.

However Gavin Strathern from Blackwater Baling in Essex, which buys and sells straw, says many firms like his are on contracts to produce energy stations and so are unable to promote their items on the open market.

“Demand has elevated four-fold from the facility turbines as, till just lately, there was just one energy station burning 250,000 tonnes of straw per 12 months and now now we have 4 burning 1 million tonnes per 12 months.”

Many farmers have been struggling to pay the additional prices for the straw they want.

In consequence, the NFU has relaunched its fodder financial institution, a service that helps its members discover animal bedding and feed.

“In addition to contributing £112bn to the economic system and offering three.eight million jobs, meals and farming underpins rural communities and it’s throughout these tough instances that the assist of each authorities and the broader trade is so vital,” the NFU mentioned.

Different choices

The Division for Surroundings Meals & Rural Affairs mentioned there have been different bedding choices obtainable.

“We perceive the affect rising wheat straw costs are having on farmers,” a spokesperson mentioned.

“Farmers and livestock keepers searching for a less expensive different to straw ought to focus on different bedding with their vet in order that animal well being and welfare points are thought-about. There are different sorts of bedding corresponding to waste paper or recycled wooden shavings.”

Mr Oakes says that is one thing farmers are conscious of, however costs there are rising too: “That may work for some techniques, but it surely would not work for all – as a result of the demand for these merchandise has shot up.

“If straw is dear, farmers search for different sorts of bedding, however the price of that’s up about 25%. I am utilizing sawdust to mattress a few of my cows. The worth of that ought to drop right now of this 12 months but it surely’s gone the opposite approach.”


Farmers at the moment are preserving their eye on the forecast. Mr Shapland says circumstances should be very beneficial to fill the barns up once more.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Improvement Board says the climate is bettering which ought to present some aid: “Grass progress data are lastly recording some sturdy every day progress. Nevertheless, with many fields at present waterlogged it might not be so simple as turning livestock again out simply but.”

Again in Bromsgrove, Mr Oakes says the leaner instances are usually not over: “It would impact subsequent winter – usually all of us carry a bit over – this time most of us are going into summer season with no inventory.

“Loads of crops can be planted within the spring, however a whole lot of farmers are saying its too late to plant now.

“It does appear to be its going to be one other very costly winter subsequent 12 months.”

Revealed at Fri, 20 Apr 2018 20:28:58 +0000