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Rodney Down: Pricing issues defy all logic for agricultural produce


Logic I have decided does not even come into the markets for our produce

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Logic I have decided does not even come into the markets for our produce. Let’s start with cull cows. A strong euro and farmers leaving the industry every week and you would think the price would be on the floor. Oh no, my last three cows into our local market Sedgemoor averaged £1,000 per head. Then the same for our clean beef cattle, for the same reasons as before you would expect the price to be lower, but no. It has dropped a bit but confidence is there with a store market which is on fire.


So political and weather events will drive my wheat price through the roof, especially for next year. Putin is still nuts (he is like a farmer trying to get back a field he lost to an arch rival family member years earlier), America has broken some of its snow records and it’s dry in Russia – all good for the wheat price you would think.


Then there is milk. We have demand but a low price, governed by what we see on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions. What is crazy is this (the GDT) only represents 7 per cent of world supply. What is even more crazy is the recent price rise is a result of a drought in New Zealand dropping its supply by about 5 per cent. A large majority of the 7 per cent traded comes from New Zealand. So a 5 per cent drop in the 7 per cent traded causes a price increase. How sensitive these markets have become.


There are, of course, other anomalies such as high fertiliser prices when the euro, oil and gas prices are low. What this all tells me is this year will see some ‘rebasing’ of both our inputs and outputs.


On the farm that expensive fertiliser is on all grass and second wheats and we are now waiting for the grass to perk up before we turn out. We are waiting for warmer weather to arrive before applying the remaining cheap black-grass sprays.


Harrison, our youngest, asked where animals and humans go when we die. My answer was heaven. ‘How long do you live in heaven for’? was the reply, to which I said forever. ‘That is a good job dad because you would not want to die twice would you’. If only everything worked like his mind, logically.


Rodney Down, Somerset

Rodney Down farms with his wife Claire at Higher Wrantage Farm, Taunton, Somerset, with 125ha (307 acres) on a farm business tenancy and a further 323ha (800 acres) rented and contract farmed. He milks 300 Holstein Friesians and runs 350 beef cattle and followers. The farm includes 180ha (445 acres) feed wheat and 61ha (150 acres) of maize.

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