Ill winds are shak­ing malt­ing bar­ley prices Grain grow­ers claim col­lapse in trade jus­ti­fies 10c cut on price of a pint

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

THE Ir­ish Grain Grow­ers (IGG) group has called on brew­ing gi­ant Di­a­geo to cut the price of a pint of Guin­ness by at least 10c given the col­lapse in malt­ing bar­ley prices.

Guin­ness cited higher malt­ing bar­ley costs as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion when the drinks’ prices rose in 2012 by 5c per pint, the IGG stated.

Now that the price of malt­ing bar­ley has fallen, the world’s most fa­mous brewer should en­sure the price of the pint re­duces, the grow­ers’ group ar­gued.

The call by IGG is part of a wider cam­paign to high­light the poor re­turns malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers re­ceived this har­vest.

IGG launch their cam­paign today with a demon­stra­tion out­side of Boort­malt head­quar­ters in Athy.

The grain grow­ers’ group has called for the cur­rent deal be­tween Boort­malt and IFA to be “thrown out”, claim­ing that it is “just not work­ing”.

IGG mem­bers claim that farm­ers did not get a chance to vote on the cur­rent deal, and that it had only lim­ited sup­port among malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers.

“We will be call­ing on IFA to step away from ne­go­ti­at­ing on be­half of grow­ers as they have led us to a sit­u­a­tion where malt­ing bar­ley con­tracts are val­ue­less and malt­ing bar­ley is no longer a pre­mium crop to grow,” the IGG stated.

The IGG also claim the IFA had signed up to a Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment in­clud­ing a code of con­duct, which no grower had seen or agreed to.

“We are call­ing on the IFA to pro­duce this Mem­o­ran­dum of Agree­ment to malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers. All grow­ers have the right to see the rules they are gov­erned by in a con­tract.

“We are call­ing on them to stop this non­sense of a com­pul­sory levy in con­tracts with Boort­malt,” the IGG state­ment added.

IGG want a min­i­mum of €200/t for malt­ing bar­ley for brew­ing, and €220-230/t for dis­till­ing grade malt­ing bar­ley be­cause of the crop’s tighter qual­ity spec­i­fi­ca­tions and lower yields.

Point­ing to Tea­gasc fig­ures, the IGG claimed the eco­nomic cost of pro­duc­tion for dis­till­ing bar­ley at a yield of 6.5 t/ha is €282/t, and €244/t for malt­ing bar­ley at 7.5 t/ha.

This year Boort­malt paid a fu­ture price of €172/t for a lim­ited amount of malt­ing bar­ley but the har­vest base price was around €155/t. The av­er­age of the hedge price this sea­son was €167/t.

Glan­bia paid €169/t to co-op mem­bers for malt­ing bar­ley, and €155/t for non-mem­bers. Bobby Miller of IGG pre­dicted that malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers will prob­a­bly make €70-100/ac on this year’s crop, ex­clud­ing straw and di­rect pay­ments.

How­ever, if half a crop failed to meet the tighter spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the dis­till­ing-grade bar­ley or malt­ing bar­ley then farm­ers could strug­gle to break even, Mr Miller main­tained. Di­a­geo stated that it has al­ways been sup­port­ive of Ir­ish farm­ers and farm­ing in Ire­land and will con­tinue to be sup­port­ive.

How­ever, it pointed out it does not buy grain from grow­ers but pur­chases fin­ished malt from the malt­ing com­pa­nies. It states the price of malt­ing bar­ley is a mat­ter for grow­ers and malt­ing com­pa­nies and added it does not set the price of a pint in pubs.

“As the largest buyer of Ir­ish malt bar­ley Di­a­geo un­der­stands and ap­pre­ci­ates the work by Boort­malt in con­junc­tion with the IFA to pro­tect grow­ers from global price vari­ances,” a Di­a­geo spokesman stated.

“In ad­di­tion it val­ues the in­vest­ment by both the IFA and Boort­malt in re­search and de­vel­op­ment to sup­port farm­ers in grow­ing the high­est qual­ity Ir­ish malt bar­ley.”

The IFA de­clined to com­ment.

Last year it stated that the part of the 38c/t levy that goes to the IFA is vol­un­tary while the other half is spend on re­search in­volv­ing Tea­gasc and UCD, and Boort­malt also con­trib­ute.

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