Prairie feed barley bids strong

Cash bids for barley across Western Canada have seen an increase from last year. Limited supply on the Prairies and adverse weather conditions in the U.S. have contributed to the higher prices, particularly in Alberta.

Bids at Lethbridge have moved up to anywhere between $5.75 and nearly $5.95 per bushel delivered to the feedlots, almost a dollar per bushel more than bids were last year at this time, said Kerby Redekop, grain merchant with Newco Grain at Lethbridge.

Meanwhile, prices in Manitoba have remained more consistent with the previous year, sitting around $5.22 per bushel. Saskatchewan bids vary between the highs seen in Alberta and lows seen in Manitoba, Redekop said.

Last month at this time, feed barley bids on the Prairies ranged between $3.18 and $5.46, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data.

Less barley being grown over the past few years has tightened supplies considerably. Flooding in Saskatchewan last year especially reduced the production of the crop, Redekop said.

But an even more prevalent factor than the limited supply in Western Canada was the adverse growing conditions for feed crops in the U.S. Midwest, he said.

"Barley bids are going to stay high as long as they keep getting hot, dry weather in the U.S.," he said. "As soon as you see some rain down there and you see the combines start rolling in Western Canada, you can expect prices to drop, but there are still going to be very strong bids for this time of year."

With the combines two to three weeks away from harvesting barley in Western Canada, he added, Prairie livestock producers are "just hanging on," as they try to turn a profit.

"Without a doubt, it’s having a major impact," said Tyler Fulton, director of risk management with [email protected] Marketing Services in Winnipeg.

Profitability in the hog sector has been taken down by about $10 per pig to the break-even mark, he said.

"Typically, seasonality on hog markets has producers relying on the fact that they’re making money at this time of year. Right now they’re not, simply because of the run-up in feed prices," he said.

— Ryan Kessler writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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