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Ken Stitchell (1952 – 2019)

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Harvest 2019

byMark Elcoate The bulk of harvest should should have finished by now but the changeable weather has delayed spring...






What next for the commodity markets?

by Ian Buchanan
All the commodity markets have been bumping along over the last few weeks without anything spectacular happening. More Chris Woakes than Jofra Archer… The weather, Brexit and Donald Trump have all failed to have much impact on prices which is unusual as generally they tend to provoke big movements in currency and markets.
Cereals
Big crops throughout the world, including the UK, and concerns about the lack of an export market after 31st October have kept a lid on UK cereal prices.
The weak currency is actually helping to keep the price supported slightly as a stronger currency could see another £10 come off prices. Grain merchants are terrified to book grain for export after 31st October as they would be responsible for paying any charges or tariffs that are implemented due to Brexit. In effect this means that exports will probably dry up around the 15th October as getting too close to the deadline will start to make traders jumpy!
If these factors suggest that prices could drop it is expected that Ensus, the bio ethanol plant on Teeside will turn back to using British wheat instead using imported maize. This could mean demand for UK wheat rises by 1 million tonnes which would make up for some of the export uncertainty. No Brexit on Oct 31st may mean business as usual so place your bets!
Proteins
If Ensus switches back to wheat it will mean that they produce a higher protein distiller’s pellet. In the short term this may place a bit of downward price pressure on mid protein prices; the main one being rapemeal.
In the longer term protein prices seem likely to be driven by the amount of soya that is carried over from last year’s harvest in the US, the US/China trade war and the condition and acreage of the planted soya crop in the USA. On balance, these factors are bearish which should push prices down. However, soya is priced in US Dollars and the current weak exchange rate means UK Sterling prices haven’t really dropped all summer. If currency was at the same level as back in May, UK soya prices would be £19/t less than they are now.
There is a suggestion that the pound could drop by another 8-10% in the event of a “no deal” and this could add £25 to the UK price of Soya and other imported proteins. Don’t forget that also diplomatic Donald could say something in regard to his trade war with China that could change the value of the dollar overnight or impact on US soya exports- or not!
We are currently looking at compound and blend prices for winter that are very similar to summer prices but well below what we saw last winter. Some feeds will be down £5/t and some will be up £5/t, depending on the range or raw materials required, but with stable prices at present and a lot of political uncertainty going forward it would be prudent to cover some winter tonnage at least until the end of December. This allows you to lock in one of your major variable costs on farm at levels sililar to what you are currently paying!
Fertiliser
With so much grass around, fertiliser markets have been as quiet as I can ever remember. Prices have been very stable with the only change being the fall in the value of the pound causing Imported AN prices to rise by a small amount. Urea markets have just started to drift and with cereal prices falling over £20/t since new season nitrogen prices were released and arable farmers very reluctant to commit we could we see manufacturers having to revise prices down to stimulate on farm sales before Christmas?
To add to the uncertainty there is a suggestion that if we do leave Europe there will be an import levy on fertiliser – trying times!

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