Barley prices rising for northern Alberta feedlots

While feed barley prices are holding steady in the Lethbridge area, further north around Edmonton, prices are starting to climb.

“We’re starting to see already just difficulty with loading here and there and buyers getting caught off-guard with not getting barley coming in when they needed it to happen. And that’s spurring some pretty large prices to get these short coverings filled,” said Jared Seitz, trade manager with Agfinity Inc. at Stony Plain, Alta.

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In Lethbridge, feed barley is sitting at $240-$250 per tonne for April, May, June, July delivery — while in the Edmonton area it’s at $239 per tonne, delivered. A month ago prices were lower at $205-$223 per tonne in Edmonton, according to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. In Lethbridge there hasn’t been as much of a price increase; a month ago feed barley was $227-$232 per tonne.

“There’s quite a few sellers looking for movement before road bans,” Seitz said. “So that has created a bit of a glut for most of the market except for a few buyers that are finding themselves short right now.”

The barley supply is currently tight. Barley exports have been higher this year with 1.3 million tonnes exported as of March 25 compared to only 736,800 tonnes a year ago, according to Canadian Grain Commission data. According to Seitz this has led to Canadian buyers having to pay more for feed.

“Whether it’s an export sale for movement right away or for movement later on in the spring it really does affect our domestic market,” he said.

Edmonton buyers are also facing logistical issues. In the Lethbridge area, it’s easy for feedlots to switch to corn for feed due to their proximity to the U.S. border. Further north, the switch to corn is expensive due to shipping costs.

Currently in Lethbridge, corn is sitting on par with feed barley at around $240-$245 per tonne, but buyers want to pay less for corn than feed barley.

Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada.


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