Think ahead to 2021 contracts and prices

Nearly every harvest there are complaints about the price from farmers and commentary that farmers have no control over the price they receive, but attitudes need to change. Farmers need to take control.

There seems to be a perception out there that Irish farmers cannot forward sell, but maybe it’s time that farmers start to take more control over the price they receive.

Almost all grain merchants in the country will give farmers the opportunity to forward sell grain, whether it is in January, June or December, and some offer prices on a weekly basis via phone. Don’t be afraid to ring your local merchant and ask for a price. Asking doesn’t tie you into a sale.

It’s important to get familiar with markets and prices throughout the year.

Many merchants offer contracted prices early in the season for crops like beans and oilseed rape, while others allow farmers to fix a price. Maybe it’s time that more farmers start to take up these offers and secure guaranteed prices for their crops, rather than wait for a decision to be made on price after the harvest.

Just be sure you sell a percentage that you can deliver – in a year like 2020 where yields are expected to be below average, you have to ensure you can deliver what you sell.

Farming is a business and a mark needs to be set at which you are happy to sell some quantity of your produce to ensure a good return on your investment.

We’ve all heard the expression “the top of the market is for fools”. If you wait for the highest point you will miss it, and that highest point rarely comes at harvest.

You don’t need grain storage or a drier, you just need a phone and a calculator.

Consider a contract price on oilseed rape or beans, think about forward selling and most importantly do up your costs.

If you want to mitigate risk on your farm and avoid the more often than not low prices of the harvest, then one way of doing this is to decide what price you’re making money at and are happy to sell, and put a percentage into the market whenever that time comes.