The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) is claiming that the new Brexit trade deal (Trade and Co-operation Agreement) will create a number of new challenges for feed compounders, specifically where grain imports from the rest of the UK are concerned.

NIGTA chief executive Robin Irvine has confirmed that of the promised frictionless trade based on no tariffs, no customs and no inspections - only the removal of tariffs has been delivered.

According to Irvine, the result is a unique and unpredictable outcome for Northern Ireland.

He added:

“The threat of a £90/t tariff on around half a million tonnes of wheat and barley from GB [Great Britain] would have severely impacted our livestock sector.

Thankfully, the tariffs have been avoided. But declarations, checks and inspections will add significantly to the cost of trading goods by road freight with the UK mainland.

“Uncertainty remains around the sourcing of grains from other third country regions where these had been subject to favourable EU tariff rate quotas (TRQ), which may no longer be available to Northern Ireland importers.

“Goods sourced from such origins will be classed as goods at risk, incurring full EU duty rates on arrival, and no rebate system has yet been tabled to recover duty when such goods are consumed in Northern Ireland.

“The challenge for the Northern Ireland executive will be to deliver effective policies and supports that will allow local businesses to make the best of the challenges and opportunities presented through the Trade and Co-operation Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol," Irvine said.

Global feed markets

Meanwhile, global feed markets continue to rally. According to Agricultural and Horticultural and Development Board (AHDB) commodities’ specialist, Alex Cook, the early parts of January saw the rally in grain markets kick up a gear, after the release of key data.

“Most gains were seen in US maize markets, which lent support to global grain prices as a whole. Prices have since fallen back as global grain supply prospects improved. UK ex-farm prices increased with global markets," Cook said.

Spot UK feed wheat was quoted at £207.30/t in the week ending January 21, with UK feed barley worth £158.20/t. This is an increase of £6.30/t for feed wheat and £10.70/t for feed barley from week ending January 7.

Global ending stocks (less China) for maize are now estimated at 92.2mt, down 10.3mt from last year and the lowest since 2013/2014. Global feed consumption is estimated at its highest level on record, this season. As a result, the cut to US supply jolted markets into moving higher.

We could see reduced maize supply closer to home too. Ukraine has proposed a limit to maize exports, following an 18% fall in production year-on-year.

“Ukraine isn’t the only Black Sea exporter putting a cap on grain exports, with Russia imposing a tax on wheat, barley and maize exports from February and March onwards. The goal of the tax is to reduce domestic food and grain prices, amid rising inflation during the coronavirus pandemic," concluded Cook.