"IN A WORLD OF PLENTY"

4th November 2014

Slight exaggeration - must be the remake of the Live Aid song playing in my mind! However along the same thought process we are approaching winter with "stores a plenty" the result of a fabulous spring, summer, autumn harvest and maize harvest - the barns are literally crammed full and with little sale value what is a farmer to do? - feed it! - but to what? - well then buy it! Music to any auctioneers ears, amusing? (if I was I'd be writing sit coms) but the sentiment is true nevertheless. Having seen the finished beef and lamb trades in somewhat of a "backwater" throughout the summer months (don't blame the meat men if retail demand is slow) then everything, as we approached autumn/winter, looked at the outset as if livestock prices would be on the back foot.

However from the early and mainstream breeding ewe sales talk of "no spare money" may well have found many supporters but demand did not reflect that comment and prices were up on the year with North Country Mule Yearlings (the barometer in these parts) up on average £12-£15 per head. "Ah yes" was the comment "but wait for the store cattle sales in the autumn, people have increased sheep numbers and won't be wanting cattle". I am still waiting or that comment to kick in, to date store cattle sales have, in the main, been phenomenal, no shortage of buyers or competition and returns that will, hopefully, encourage suckler men to stick with their cows a little longer. Many markets have been reporting steer averages over 230p/kg and heifers 210p/kg but more importantly - see the cattle to see the trade.

Is this "headless chicken" syndrome? I don’t think so...as I scribe this article the lamb trade is steadily rising by a few pence per week, now averaging over 170p/kg. the beef trade, as we approach the festive season, also looks more acceptable and more positive longer term according to a recent EBLEX outlook which states "with lower production, robust exports and lower imports expected forecasts point to the prospect of stronger prices" (hopefully not so strong as to put off retail sales).

The "£" continues to weaken and has now hit 80p always a lift for agriculture and also better news for "cash crop" growers as the grain audits in both America and Russia show less tonnage of wheat than anticipated which had an immediate effect on our market pushing up feed wheat from around £105 to £115 per tonne.

If your yards are full and your barns are full - make sure your stock are full...OF MEAT!

Clive C Roads FLAA
Partner, McCartneys LLP, Worcester