Barley Farmers Get What They Pray For

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Canadian farmers have learned to expect the unexpected, so their relief at the lack of shocking news on the price front this harvest should come as no surprise.

“Malt and feed prices have stayed very stable,” said Dave Guichon, president of AgValue Brokers Inc. of Calgary. “The grain companies are still looking more for old sales. Barley is about $215/MT (metric tonne) delivered in Lethbridge which is unchanged. Domestic demand is still weak as we await winter and more cattle numbers, but prices should remain stable for malt and increase slightly for feed, possibly $5/MT.”

Steady as she Grows

As chair of the Barley Council of Canada, Brian Otto also values stability, so he liked what he saw this year, where the only surprise was a pleasant one.

While noting that prices were pretty steady on both the malt and feed fronts, Otto said it was somewhat unexpected that “feed is still as attractive as it is. Usually once we get out of harvest, the price tends to dip as people start to deliver their feed barley into the marketplace.”

A-OK in PEI

At the other end of the country, the general manager of the PEI Grain Elevators Corporation (PEIGEC) was equally unstressed.

“This year’s harvest was late starting, but we still managed above average yields and excellent quality,” said Neil Campbell. “Farm to farm sales on the island were around $175/MT, with the rest of the crop going into storage to be sold in the winter for between $190 and $220/MT.”

Rain Delays

It was a different story in Saskatchewan, where producer Zenneth Faye said the late start did have an impact.

“We got rain in July so barley was the last crop we harvested, which is very unusual.”

The result was late germination, high moisture content and only about 25 per cent of his crop going for malt, compared to 75 per cent most years. To his credit, Faye remains philosophical about it all.

“In this country, you seed when you seed and hope for the rain and environmental conditions to make your crop mature evenly. What else can you do?”

Forward Thinking

According to Otto, one thing we can do going forward is take full advantage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“The TPP offers some significant tariff reductions on barley and tremendous opportunities that will benefit the barley industry and all of Canada.”

So if barley prices are on the upswing in the near future, you can be pleased, relieved and even ecstatic; just don’t be surprised.

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