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Straw shortages and rising prices hit pig producers

18th Sep 2020 / By Alistair Driver

Pig producers across the country are suffering from straw shortages and high prices on the back of this summer’s poor harvest.

pigs on strawThe latest weekly straw prices from the British Hay & Straw Merchants Association show hefty price increases, with barley straw quoted at around £70/tonne in many regions and £90/t in the South West, with wheat straw generally £60-70/t and £85 in the South West. By comparison, in September 2019, barley straw was averaging £40-£50, with wheat straw as low as £30/t in the Midlands and not more than £45/t anywhere.

Members have been contacting NPA flagging the issue, so chief executive Zoe Davies asked producer members of the NPA’s Pig Industry Group (PIG) for their views during Tuesday’s online meeting.

South Central representative Sally Stockings said: “We are down in some cases to only one-third of our normal supply from certain areas of land. The local farming community have been very good. Like the rest of the country we are telling our contractors and have baled anything we have been able to. But in some fields, there is literally nothing.”

North region representative Vicky Morgan said: “Our winter barley straw baled really easily before August, but the weather has had a massive impact since and we are short of everything else. The price is going up and up and a lot of our third-party farmers are struggling and worried about it.”

Andrew Freemantle, from the South West, said he had some good quality wheat straw delivered in August for £80/t.

“There isn’t much about,” he said. “But there was a lot carried over from straw merchants last year that didn’t get sold, which will help and then we have got to hope that the weather Gods are on our side – if we have a dry autumn and early spring? that will reduce the straw needed by livestock. That might even it out.”

Rob Mutimer, the NPA vice chair, who farms in the Eastern region, said: “Most producers have got around 70-80% of what they need. The straw merchants are saying they have quite of carryover from last year.”

Sam Godfrey, from the Midlands, said: “This area usually has surplus straw. This year we will be just about alright but everything has been baled everywhere.”

Zoe has also raised the issue with the NFU, who suggested farmers keep in touch with the fodder bank which also carries information about straw availability. You can access it HERE