As grain stores worth £16 million are launched on the open market, the farmers union (NFUS) is questioning whether more grower co-operation is needed to address a growing concentration of power in the malting barley sector.
The four stores at Errol, East Lothian, the Borders and Northumberland are being marketed by Savills after the grain merchanting business of Alexander Inglis & Son went into administration last month.
NFUS says the company’s collapse is a stark reminder of the challenges facing growers in the combinable crop sector, and points to major restructuring going on in the industry, including last November’s news that Simpsons Malt had acquired the grain merchanting business of WN Lindsay Ltd , including four grain stores totalling 200,000 tonnes.
The union says it is now time for growers to explore the opportunity for increased farmer co-operation and collaboration, and it has invited members to take part in a webinar on Monday.
The union said: “We are entering a period of significant change: Brexit, new agricultural policy, tackling the climate emergency, lack of farm profitability, concentration of power in the supply chain, amongst others.
“Big challenges need big solutions, and one solution is farmers coming together bound by a common purpose.”
Details of the webinar, run jointly with the Scottish farm co-operatives movement, SAOS, can be found at nfus.org.uk
The granaries at Errol comprise two stores providing storage for approximately 25,300 tonnes, the stores in East Lothian are a complex of 10 sheds with storage for 78,000 tonnes, the Borders facility has three sheds and 34 silos providing storage for 57,000 tonnes, and Swarland Grainstore in Northumberland has storage for 41,6000 tonnes.
The stores, which are located in core cereal production regions and accessible to major trunk and motorway networks, are for sale as a whole or in four lots.
The sites are serviced by grain drying and handling plant, site offices, laboratories and weighbridges. The grain dryers and other integrated plant are included in the sale, with mobile machinery, vehicles, office and laboratory contents available separately.
Savills agent Luke French said : “This is a rare opportunity to purchase well-equipped and extensive grain storage facilities across four strategic locations.
“The intention is to complete a sale prior to this harvest to enable a purchaser(s) to continue to service this important and valuable sector. Due to the interest shown in the facilities and harvest fast approaching, a closing date for best offers has been set for June 18.”