If … home-grown barley from Great Britain could be bought and landed in Ulster at a price more in line with the price at which it is available to compounders across the water, this would have significant benefits for the Northern Ireland livestock farmers and in particular our Ulster pig industry.”
This was stated by Mr J McGregor Black, president of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association Ltd, when he spoke at the Association’s sixth annual dinner in Belfast last Wednesday evening.
“It is disappointing to learn that we may have to live with this situation for some time,” said Mr Black. “We had hoped that some definite progress was being made towards this end.”
Referring to feeding costs, Mr Black recalled that in the year 1954-55 – when the farmers’ annual Price Review started – feedingstuffs represented 31.2 per cent of total farm costs.
“Thirteen years later in 1967-68 this feedingstuffs cost ingredient had not increased – it then stood at 29.6 per cent – a drop, in fact, of half per cent of the total cost. This was in spite of the fact that feedingstuffs had increased in usage by almost 50 per cent in the same period.”
Mr Black, who was addressing more than 200 members and guests, said that feed represented the major ingredient in the total but its share of farm costs had not risen in proportion to that of several other costs throughout the last 13 years.
“In fact the greatest increase in these farm costs,” said Mr Black, “has been in rent and interest – these have risen from 6.9 per cent to 10.6 per cent – an increase of 3.7 per cent of the total.”
The cost of finance today was one of the problems of all industry and it was no less to the feed industry which traditionally had played an important part in financing the British livestock farmer.
“This raises the question of availability of capital generally in British agriculture,” he pointed out.
“Capital investment in agriculture is simply not growing at anything like the rate in the rest of our economy. Investment in fixed assets and improvements in farming has increased at only half the rate of increase in our economy as a whole over the last 10 years.”