[30 November 2018/NZ Herald]

The cropping sector is looking towards an enhanced future as good seasonal prospects, stronger markets and an increased variety of crop options put the sector on a good footing after a tough two years. The recently released industry survey from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative, indicates stock levels of unsold grain are relatively low through the sector, with unsold cereal grain crops down by 65 per cent over the July-October period of the survey. This comes despite last years’ plantings increasing 17 per cent, driven mainly by feed barley and feed wheat sowings. Federated Farmers Arable Sector Vice Chairman, Brian Leadley, said that farmers had experienced a range of cost increases, including fuel, urea, and also higher environmental costs. The industry has recently been encouraged by Countdown supermarkets decision to use locally grown grain in items that are baked in house. Mr Leadley said the quality message behind New Zealand grains is spreading, not only among consumers but also among dairy farmers sourcing grain for feed noting the biosecurity risk has also been recognised. Bayleys Mid and South Canterbury Manager, Jock Fulton, said the positive news coming out of the arable sector over the last year was welcome, boosted by the diversity that Canterbury enjoys in crop type and farmer ability. Mr Fulton noted there had not been many sales in the past six months, but compared to the previous 12-15 months, prices have been pretty solid.