Grow­ers re­ceiv­ing €20/t less than they did in 1976

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

FARM­ERS have warned they may opt out of grow­ing malt­ing bar­ley, with prices now €20/t be­low the price they re­ceived four decades ago.

Around 100 farm­ers from the Ir­ish Grain Grow­ers’ (IGG) group gath­ered out­side the gates of malt­ing com­pany Boort­malt head­quar­ters in Athy, Co Kil­dare to high­light the poor re­turns re­ceived for the key in­gre­di­ent in a pint of Guin­ness.

They pointed out that in 1976, the price of a pint was 48c com­pared to at least €4.30 to­day. Grow­ers re­ceived €175/t for malt­ing bar­ley in 1976 com­pared with €155/t to­day. How­ever, us­ing a price in­dex tak­ing into ac­count in­fla­tion, if it had kept pace with in­fla­tion it should be roughly the equiv­a­lent of €864/t in to­day’s money.

Farm­ers whose fam­i­lies have been grow­ing malt­ing bar­ley for up to six gen­er­a­tions warned it was no longer vi­able for them to con­tinue pro­duc­ing it at cur­rent prices.

Bobby Miller from the Ir­ish Grain Grow­ers’ (IGG) group called for a min­i­mum of €200/t for malt­ing bar­ley for brew­ing and €220230/t for dis­till­ing grade malt­ing bar­ley as it is pro­duced to higher spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Farm­ers gath­ered at the protest stated the av­er­age har­vest base price they re­ceived was around €155/t and warned they could not sign up for the higher fu­ture price as they could not guar­an­tee de­liv­ery with the tight spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

The grow­ers’ group was crit­i­cal of IFA deputy pres­i­dent Richard Kennedy as a dairy farmer lead­ing the IFA ne­go­ti­a­tions as chair. How­ever, it is un­der­stood that the IFA does not in­tend to change this.

They called for the cur­rent deal be­tween Boort­malt and the IFA to be “thrown out”, claim­ing it was “just not work­ing”.

They stated the IFA should “with­draw” from ne­go­ti­at­ing on be­half of grow­ers as the malt­ing bar­ley con­tracts were now “val­ue­less”.

The IGG’s Colm Fin­gle­ton said there was “no agree­ment” from grow­ers on the deal struck be­tween the IFA and Boort­malt.

Grower James Kelly said him­self and Mr Fin­gle­ton had re­signed from the IFA af­ter two years as they felt it was “fail­ing farm­ers badly”.

The IFA said malt­ing bar­ley grow­ers led by Richard Kennedy met Boort­malt, led by Koen­raad Du­mont, the group chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer based in An­twerp.

The IFA stated it had stressed there needs to be a “sig­nif­i­cant up­lift” in the price of malt­ing bar­ley and made it clear that with­out it, there was a “real dan­ger” that farm­ers would exit from malt­ing bar­ley grow­ing.

A spokesman for Boort­malt said it has in­vested mil­lions in up­grad­ing the plant since ac­quir­ing the Ir­ish Malt busi­ness in 2010 and has in­creased sales of Ir­ish malt by over 40pc. “All of which means we are pur­chas­ing more Ir­ish malt­ing bar­ley than ever be­fore and are thereby pro­vid­ing a sus­tain­able out­let for qual­ity Ir­ish malt­ing bar­ley grown by over 600 Ir­ish grow­ers for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

It stated the “unique” pric­ing model put in place be­tween Boort­malt and the IFA was “open, trans­par­ent and mar­ket lead­ing”.

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