Spring feed barley growers set for another loss-making year

Spring feeding barley growers are set for another loss making year says Teagasc Tillage Specialist John Pettit.

At current prices, spring feed barley producers are set to lose €2/t providing crops yield 3t/ac on owned land.

This will be the second year in a row where growers may will make losses that will erode into their Basic Payment, he said.

According to Pettit, spring feed barley is Ireland’s largest tillage crop and, at the prices farmers are currently being quoted, they look set to make a loss for the second consecutive year.

Last year’s feed barley price was €130/t while early indications from the market suggests that current prices are in the region of €130-135/t, so the market remains similar to last year.

The expected €5 increase in price will only have a marginal effect on farm profitability, he said, with many farmers still making a loss with production costs in the region of €137/t with a 3t/ac crop on owned land.

According to Pettit, it costs in the region of €450/ac inclusive of fixed costs to produce spring feed barley when all work is carried out by a contractor, he said. This figure compromises of €390/ac in variable costs, while a further €60/ac can be attributed to fixed costs, he said.

When the additional income from straw (€40/ac) is considered the cost of production is €137/t. However, Pettit added that many farmer’s machinery costs will be lower than a contractor charge but machinery costs on farms can vary greatly.

At current pricing levels farmers look set to lose €2/t on this year’s harvest. This is despite what is expected to be an excellent harvest this year with the first crops of feeding barley exhibiting excellent bushel weights and yields.

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