Shortages expected for Prairie feed barley market

WINNIPEG – Sales have slowed for feed grain buyers in Western Canada, as concerns continue to mount about feed shortages.

“The confidence from the farmer is not (there anymore). He just wants to see some crop come into his bin. So we’ve definitely slowed in our buying,” said Brandon Motz, sales manager at CorNine Commodities in Lacombe, Alta.

Possible feed barley shortages aren’t the only thing on people’s minds as reports from across the Prairies are pointing to hay shortages and pastures that are shriveled up. With less grazing and feed options there is talk that that some producers are considering selling cattle earlier than normal this year.

“When you hear (cattle) have to come off of grass early and end up in the feedlots, that’s not a good sign,” Motz said.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan put out a news release on Aug. 15, asking the federal government to implement a 2018 Livestock Tax Deferral Program for all Saskatchewan producers. This would allow producers who sell part of cattle herd due to drought to defer a portion of the sale proceeds to the following year.

The Manitoba Agriculture weekly crop report from Aug. 13, said that haying was continuing on but with low yields. The Alberta Agriculture and Forestry crop report from Aug. 7 pegged the first cut hay yields at 1.0 tonnes per acre, below the five-year average of 1.5 tonnes per acre.

According to Motz, feed grain prices have started to settle after hitting highs earlier this month. Feed barley for September through December delivery is currently at around C$255 per tonne, however Motz has seen offers for as high as C$260 per tonne for December.

There is concern that there won’t be enough barley available for feed. Motz has only heard of a few combines rolling in his area and early reports are saying that while quality is OK, yields are lower than expected.

“I think it’s fair to say that there won’t be enough barley around to only feed barley,” Motz said, adding that currently it looks like corn will be the best option to supplement feed.

Corn for delivery to Lethbridge in October through December is currently sitting around C$252 to C$254 per tonne, while January to March delivery is higher at C$262 to C$264 per tonne. According to Motz, the bulk of the corn trades are currently coming from the United States, on hundred train car units, but there are also some coming from Manitoba.

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