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Feed grains seen “ample” for domestic market

Feed grain supplies in Western Canada should be more than adequate to meet the demand in the coming year, according to market sources who thought the ample domestic feed grain supplies should limit imports of U.S. corn.

Canada produced 27.266 million tonnes of wheat in 2008-09, up from 20.054 million the previous year, according to Statistics Canada data. Barley production is estimated at 11.219 million tonnes, up from 10.984 million in 2007-08.

Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis with the Canadian Wheat Board, said that “despite our earlier concerns, it looks like it will be a normal feed wheat crop, in terms of the percentage of the crop that will grade as feed.”

The percentage of Canada’s wheat crop that grades as feed usually varies between five and 10 per cent, according to Burnett. While there were some areas that saw frosted grain and other downgrading factors this year, he thought the overall percentage of feed wheat would be closer to five per cent this year.

In terms of barley, there were fewer acres planted specifically to feed barley varieties this year, sais Burnett. However, rains in the middle of September left some of the barley harvested after that unsuitable for malt, he added.

Burnett said there would be “a reasonable availability” of feed barley, noting that the majority of the barley crop will be marketed domestically as feed, as is normally the case.

Overall, Burnett thought feed grain supplies in Western Canada would be adequate to meet the demand, but not overly large either.

“We have ample supplies for our domestic market,” said Dave Guichon, of Ag Value Brokers in Alberta, on the western Canadian feed grain supply situation. Given better-than-average yield, he expected the carryout numbers of both feed barley and feed wheat would increase on the year.

Also, he said, “there’s no export business to speak of for feed barley,” which will keep more in the domestic market. Farmers are also holding ample supplies of feed wheat, but Guichon thought they would hold off on marketing it until they see if they can get the wheat blended up and receive a better price.

With domestic feed grain supplies more than sufficient to meet demand, Guichon didn’t expect to see any significant imports of U.S. corn for feeding livestock. “We’ll be back down to our traditional zero in the feed market,” he commented.

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