(2) what recent assessment he has made of the trend in grain prices in the UK; and if he will make a statement.
The increase in UK grain prices reflects the rise in global wheat prices following two successive smaller world harvests and increasing demand for cereals for food, feed and fuel purposes. Current high grain prices, combined with policy changes such as the removal of the set-aside requirement for the 2008 harvest, will undoubtedly stimulate production and lead to a moderation of prices, but it may take a number of years to rebuild stocks to levels that markets are comfortable with, and periods of price volatility are likely to occur for the foreseeable future.
In the poultry (and pig) sectors, feed costs, and by implication, total production costs, are largely determined by world prices for cereals, oilseeds and other commodities (recognising that there is some limited scope to reformulate feed in response to relative price movements to reduce costs). The latest set of animal feed statistics contains details of the price of poultry feed up to June 2007 and can be found at:
Estimates of poultry feed costs through to September 2007, which will cover the period of significantly rising grain prices, are due to be published on 17 January 2008.
Weekly wholesale prices for poultry can be found at:
but it should be recognised that these represent only a small proportion of the overall market.
A fuller and wider assessment of the rise in commodity prices can be found in our report “Implications of rising agricultural commodity prices” published at the end of September which can be found at:
The first full set of farm income statistics, including an estimate of the income for specialist poultry farms, will be published at the end of January 2008.