STAT Communications Ag Market News

Australian Barley Pool Outlook Improves

DONALD - Nov 2/99 - STAT -- Australian barley growers are looking at a dramatic improvement in price outllok since the start of seeding, according to the latest revision in the Australian Barley Board's pool outlook.

ABB chairman Trevor Day said encouraging forward sales of barley from the 1999-00 harvest had enabled ABB to again raise its estimated gross pool returns.

The Schooner malting barley indicator was now between A$198-203 MT, with feed 1 barley in a $161-166 MT range. Estimated pool returns quoted today included for the first time an interest factor, estimated at $5 MT, as part of ABB’s financing package.

"Our standard pool payments for both malting and feed barley are estimated to be about $30 to $35 MT higher than what was forecast at seeding time," he said.

The steady increase in barley prices over the growing season will likely buoy growers’ confidence in the commodity, particularly following last year’s comparatively low returns.

Barley has made a steady recovery since early 1998, when a dramatic collapse in the international market saw feed barley prices drop some 42% to a low of US$65 MT (FOB) by late 1998.

"We are very pleased with our forward sales, particularly of feed barley to the Middle East and malting barley to China," Mr Day said. "Early shipments will enable us to give growers a good, early cash flow."

New pool payments introduced by ABB this harvest would give growers the option to deliver to either a standard or extended pool.

"The feedback we’ve received so far has indicated that our standard pool option -- which provides growers with a convenient and competitive financing package -- will be very popular this harvest," Mr Day said.

The standard pool gave growers a rapid return on their harvest delivery, with gross harvest advances set at $150 MT for Schooner malting and $124 MT for feed barley.

Also from this year, a sliding scale payment system would operate on deliveries of Schooner, Sloop, Franklin and Arapiles malting barley delivered to ABB’s pools.

"Growers have welcomed the introduction of the sliding scale, which will see graduated payments introduced and should resolve concerns about big price jumps between malting grades," Mr Day said.

"For many years, customers have requested quality malting barley that has between 10% and 11.5% protein and with less than 10% screenings. From this harvest, growers who deliver malting barley that meets these specifications will receive a higher price, reflecting the premium-quality grain they have delivered."

Payments for malting barley outside these specifications would be graduated according to how far outside the specified protein and screening limits the delivery fell.

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