What’s the point in straw merchants?

mountfarm

Member
Discuss that?

We are occasional straw sellers depending on price. If we can achieve £70/t and over we will bale and sell. If it’s less we chop it. Normally we’d sell to a merchant for ease. However this year we’ve sold direct to end users mainly because they are coming direct to us. They’ve been asking merchant truck drivers where stuffs been collected from and then googled for contact details. They’ll pay up front and arrange their own collection. Everybody is happy because we get the price we want but the buyer has cut out the merchants profit on the transport cost as well as the profit on the straw sale.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Discuss that?

We are occasional straw sellers depending on price. If we can achieve £70/t and over we will bale and sell. If it’s less we chop it. Normally we’d sell to a merchant for ease. However this year we’ve sold direct to end users mainly because they are coming direct to us. They’ve been asking merchant truck drivers where stuffs been collected from and then googled for contact details. They’ll pay up front and arrange their own collection. Everybody is happy because we get the price we want but the buyer has cut out the merchants profit on the transport cost as well as the profit on the straw sale.

If the merchant wasn’t there in the first instance then the buyers wouldn’t have been able to ask their drivers.;)

Their job is linking together buyers & sellers. You could equally ask what’s the point of a livestock market, a grain/fertiliser trader or a shop?
 

Frodo

Member
Location
Scotland (east)
Discuss that?

We are occasional straw sellers depending on price. If we can achieve £70/t and over we will bale and sell. If it’s less we chop it. Normally we’d sell to a merchant for ease. However this year we’ve sold direct to end users mainly because they are coming direct to us. They’ve been asking merchant truck drivers where stuffs been collected from and then googled for contact details. They’ll pay up front and arrange their own collection. Everybody is happy because we get the price we want but the buyer has cut out the merchants profit on the transport cost as well as the profit on the straw sale.
Whats the point in Tesco? They are just merchants.

Selling direct isn't for everyone
 
Discuss that?

We are occasional straw sellers depending on price. If we can achieve £70/t and over we will bale and sell. If it’s less we chop it. Normally we’d sell to a merchant for ease. However this year we’ve sold direct to end users mainly because they are coming direct to us. They’ve been asking merchant truck drivers where stuffs been collected from and then googled for contact details. They’ll pay up front and arrange their own collection. Everybody is happy because we get the price we want but the buyer has cut out the merchants profit on the transport cost as well as the profit on the straw sale.

They form a link in the marketplace.

Imagine you are a barley baron in Salisbury plain. You have 4000 acres of standing crops. There are no cattle farmers for probably 20 miles in any direction. You would choose to sell to a merchant because they will pay you and get the straw shifted promptly. Trying to deal with a dozen livestock boys in Devon would be like herding cats each of whom believe they can probably get a better deal somewhere else first.

Arable farmer: 'Would you like to buy some straw..?'

Devonian cattle farmer: 'Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... well.... see, I mightn't need as much as last yeer, well, maybe 25 acres then, if it's nice and bright, shiny and bright and shiny like'

Arable farmer: 'great, but what about the remaining 3975 acres though?'

Devonian cattle farmer: 'ahhh well.... I'll give eeee a call about mid December about shiftin the rest...'


Flogging to a merchant or a baling contractor with wagons alleviates all this which, I suspect may be enough to cause most arable farmers a coronary on it's own.

I would, being the nice guy I am, happily bale my own stuff and let a local farmer buy some for his own use, but doing this in big quantities would be hard work. If you have your own baler you are the king of the hill but waiting for people to bale and shift it, well, good luck.
 

mountfarm

Member
If the merchant wasn’t there in the first instance then the buyers wouldn’t have been able to ask their drivers.;)

Their job is linking together buyers & sellers. You could equally ask what’s the point of a livestock market, a grain/fertiliser trader or a shop?

I think it’s a bit different to that because with straw there’s to many fingers in the pie with a relatively low value product.

In a normal year the seller gets £50/tonne.

The merchants transports it say for £10/t in house cost, but he charges the end user £15/t making £5/t on hauling it.

The merchant then adds a profit margin on the £50/t as well to say £70/t making £20/t profit.

So in total the merchant takes £25/t profit.

If the end user organises his own transport it’ll cost him £15/t anyway but he saves the merchants £20/t profit on the sale. I’ve one livestock farmer in northern Wales buying off us that buys in 1500t per year so saving £20/t is £30,000 to his bottom line. He says all he’s had to do is pay upfront before collection where as with a merchant it was 30 days after delivery so all that’s happened is cashflow has altered.
 

mountfarm

Member
They form a link in the marketplace.

Imagine you are a barley baron in Salisbury plain. You have 4000 acres of standing crops. There are no cattle farmers for probably 20 miles in any direction. You would choose to sell to a merchant because they will pay you and get the straw shifted promptly. Trying to deal with a dozen livestock boys in Devon would be like herding cats each of whom believe they can probably get a better deal somewhere else first.

Arable farmer: 'Would you like to buy some straw..?'

Devonian cattle farmer: 'Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh... well.... see, I mightn't need as much as last yeer, well, maybe 25 acres then, if it's nice and bright, shiny and bright and shiny like'

Arable farmer: 'great, but what about the remaining 3975 acres though?'

Devonian cattle farmer: 'ahhh well.... I'll give eeee a call about mid December about shiftin the rest...'


Flogging to a merchant or a baling contractor with wagons alleviates all this which, I suspect may be enough to cause most arable farmers a coronary on it's own.

I would, being the nice guy I am, happily bale my own stuff and let a local farmer buy some for his own use, but doing this in big quantities would be hard work. If you have your own baler you are the king of the hill but waiting for people to bale and shift it, well, good luck.

In your logic the straw merchant is then dealing with the 12 farmers in Devon. The arable farmer can do the same like we are now. It’s easy. They pay up front per bale and organise their own collection.
 
I think it’s a bit different to that because with straw there’s to many fingers in the pie with a relatively low value product.

In a normal year the seller gets £50/tonne.

The merchants transports it say for £10/t in house cost, but he charges the end user £15/t making £5/t on hauling it.

The merchant then adds a profit margin on the £50/t as well to say £70/t making £20/t profit.

So in total the merchant takes £25/t profit.

If the end user organises his own transport it’ll cost him £15/t anyway but he saves the merchants £20/t profit on the sale. I’ve one livestock farmer in northern Wales buying off us that buys in 1500t per year so saving £20/t is £30,000 to his bottom line. He says all he’s had to do is pay upfront before collection where as with a merchant it was 30 days after delivery so all that’s happened is cashflow has altered.

I would not be a straw merchant for all the tea in China, I bet it is an easy way to be owed a lot of money. Of course, in a dry year everyone sorts themselves and merry Christmas and your phone is dead. In a wet season or one with not much straw about everyone wants to be your pal for a day.

If an arable farm wants to win big they build a gert shed like Puntabrava has and store the lot and treat it like Fort Knox.
 

mountfarm

Member
I would not be a straw merchant for all the tea in China, I bet it is an easy way to be owed a lot of money. Of course, in a dry year everyone sorts themselves and merry Christmas and your phone is dead. In a wet season or one with not much straw about everyone wants to be your pal for a day.

If an arable farm wants to win big they build a gert shed like Puntabrava has and store the lot and treat it like Fort Knox.

There’s just to many fingers in a very small pie. Grain merchants are adding £2/t to grain so it’s not noticeable so much. But straw at £50/t ending up delivered on farm for £85/t is just not on. Nobody is adding value to it like a supermarket does.
 
In your logic the straw merchant is then dealing with the 12 farmers in Devon. The arable farmer can do the same like we are now. It’s easy. They pay up front per bale and organise their own collection.

I agree, in principle it sounds fantastic, but having had conversations with arable farmers and livestock farmers I've heard both sides of the story more times than I can count. There is no more certain a business transaction liable to incite profanity than straw transactions.

'So and so still hasn't paid me for last years straw!'

'He told me there was straw to bale up and he hadn't even started cuttin!'

'I bought wheat straw off that ejit and some of the bales were barley (normally livestock folk view barley as being better), crooked fudger!'

'I bought straw and he turned up with a load that was from last year!'
 
There’s just to many fingers in a very small pie. Grain merchants are adding £2/t to grain so it’s not noticeable so much. But straw at £50/t ending up delivered on farm for £85/t is just not on. Nobody is adding value to it like a supermarket does.

If I was in your position I would sell to the merchants and be happy with that money on time and prompt clearance. Load the wagons and get it gone. Some merchants are storing it at their own expense mind. There will be a myriad of people in the straw game along later to tell you that flogging forage or straw is far from straight forward. You appear to have access to your own baler so you can control your own destiny.
 

mountfarm

Member
I agree, in principle it sounds fantastic, but having had conversations with arable farmers and livestock farmers I've heard both sides of the story more times than I can count. There is no more certain a business transaction liable to incite profanity than straw transactions.

'So and so still hasn't paid me for last years straw!'

'He told me there was straw to bale up and he hadn't even started cuttin!'

'I bought wheat straw off that ejit and some of the bales were barley (normally livestock folk view barley as being better), crooked fudger!'

'I bought straw and he turned up with a load that was from last year!'

Again with that logic the merchants are dealing with that hassle factor if it exists. So somebody has to deal with it. The point still stands cut the merchants out and do it yourself.
 

ARW

Member
Location
Yorkshire
Nobody is forced to buy or sell through a merchant
A merchant may turn up and bale good heavy bales, lead and stack them in good time with good machines
Your farmers may turn up when they like, if it’s wet they won’t want it, then they may come and lead with a fleet of old zetors for weeks on end in November
 
Again with that logic the merchants are dealing with that hassle factor if it exists. So somebody has to deal with it. The point still stands cut the merchants out and do it yourself.


I agree entirely, but it is like many things in life: you can make money from certain things but you need to factor in your time/hassle/enjoyment of it. For some arable farmers, they don't want the grief. My friend used to bale for some big estates to the North/East of here and woe betide if you weren't there on time. And that went for everyone: the man on the baler, the bale chasers, the wagons, the lot. Some contractors/merchants will bale and take away virtually anything because they know they have such a range of buyers. I worked on a place where the linseed and the OSR haulm went somewhere for someone each year without fail. Search me who but it all went out of our way.
 

Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

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Update on the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot

Written by Lisa Applin

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In July, we opened the applications window for farmers to join our Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive is 1 of the 3 new environmental land management schemes. It sits alongside the future Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes.

Through the Sustainable Farming Incentive, farmers will be paid for environmentally sustainable actions – ones that are simple to do and do not require previous agri-environment scheme experience.

We are piloting the scheme to...
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