2 Mar 2010

Low prices push farmers out of grain growing

1:40 pm on 2 March 2010

The grain and seed industry is losing further land to dairy conversions in the main production region, Canterbury, as growers look for more profitable alternatives.

Mid-Canterbury grain growers representative, David Clark, says crop prices offered to local growers are still significantly below imported grain prices.

Imported milling wheat into North Island is fetching $380 to $390 a tonne, sorghum $360 a tonne and feed wheat and feed barley are bringing in $350 a tonne.

Local growers are being offered $200 to $240 a tonne for feed grains, which he says is not sustainable.

Mr Clark has heard of 10 or 11 planned conversions this season, some on the best cropping soils in the country.

He says despite the late start and earlier hail damage in some areas, this year's grain harvest is expected to produce a good quality average yield, which should ensure a high acceptance rate by mills and malting companies.

Losses have been reported in Hawke's Bay because of an unusually wet summer there.