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NFU Calls for Greater Transparency on Grain Quality

26 September 2012, at 7:58am

UK - Despite current strong wheat prices, the National Farmers Union (NFU) is warning that arable farmers face a challenging year ahead because of forward sale prices and poor quality of a proportion of the 2012 crop.

Members are being advised to work on a detailed understanding of the quality of their grain, to combine sampling and analysis with segregation in stores and to take action to improve quality before final movement. It is imperative, says the NFU, that farmers know what the quality of wheat is and, if in doubt, to discuss before loading.

However, the NFU says there needs to be greater transparency of individual intakes explaining how fallbacks are applied to specific weights, on a scale that multiplies the penalty as weight reduces. With the right information, and without the element of surprise, better transparency of the evidence for claims in the wheat sector will help to maintain improving relationships within supply chains.

Andrew Watts, NFU combinable crops chairman, said: “Farmers generally recognise the facts about this year’s harvest and that it will need to be managed. We are challenging merchants and processors to help them by being much more transparent about the way in which claims are calculated. A difficult season will demonstrate where a farmer’s interests are best served within the trade.

“We do not expect a penny by penny list for each claim, but we have not seen anyone publicly explain or query why claims on quality seem to be at odds with HGCA’s work on specific weight and pig and poultry feed.

“In particular the trade needs to be clear that any claims are consistent with those from a mill or compounder. In light of the difficult season we have asked AHDB to look at this work to help ensure future contract specifications are more relevant to end-use.

“There have been a number of disruptions that have shaken the grain industry in the past few years but progress has been made in recent seasons to build better grain trade relationships. We do not wish to spend a whole season in conflict and with high tensions that will undermine the progress that has been made.”