Tue, 17 Sep 2019

British farmers are rushing to sell their big harvests of wheat and barley before October to avoid the potential market chaos of a no-deal Brexit.

The UK may reap the most feed barley in four years, and wheat prospects are also improving, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. Coupled with the risk that sales to the European Union may plummet if the UK departs without a deal, that's spurring a surge in early-season grain sales.

About 63 000 tons of barley were sold from farmers for spot delivery in the week ended August 8, AHDB data show. That's the largest in records to 2000, and feed wheat sales reached a three-year high.

"We're seeing a lot of spot demand coming in," said Edd Britton, a trader at Bartholomews Agri Foods in Chichester. "Our malting barley program is way ahead of where it usually is."

The UK may look further afield, such as North Africa, to offload its surplus. That's happened before after large harvests, though the markets are more commonly supplied by French and Black Sea grain. The weak pound has made British supply more competitive and prices may fall further after Brexit, according to AHDB analyst James Webster.

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