Feed weekly outlook: Prairie grain market steady, for now

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

MarketsFarm — The feed grain market in Western Canada remains firm for the time being, but the uncertainty of outside influences makes it difficult to predict where values will go from here.

“It is so hard to gauge,” said Susanne Leclerc, owner of Market Master Ltd. in Edmonton, adding “I don’t think anybody can predict these markets this year.”

The ongoing global pandemic, the uncertain U.S. political situation and a trade dispute between China and Australia are just a few of the outside influences that may sway the domestic feed market.

Leclerc added that the immediacy of information from tweets and other sources can lead to choppiness and overreaction in markets, even when information being spread is not based in reality.

“We’ve seen political drama over the past couple of years drive more than anything,” said Leclerc.

However, while uncertainty remains, general fundamentals remain supportive for barley bids and the market is steady for the time being as feedlots continue to book grain for the winter.

Canada has exported 750,000 tonnes of barley during the first 12 weeks of the 2020-21 marketing year, according to Canadian Grain Commission data. That’s more than double what moved during the same period the previous year. The increase in barley moving internationally cuts into the domestic supply, which is supportive for prices.

Feed barley is currently trading at around $265-$275 per tonne delivered into Lethbridge. Those bids are off their recent highs, but still well above what the grain was trading at off the combine.

Leclerc noted the wide spread in Lethbridge bids highlights the need for growers to do due diligence when looking to move grain, as some buyers may have more space to fill than others.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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