IFA Malting Barley Committee Chairman Mark Browne said there are ongoing discussions with Boortmalt since the last growers’ meeting and some progress has been made. However, he said a deal has yet to be agreed.
At two recent meetings of growers, IFA encouraged the large gathering of farmers to accept and plant their seed for this season. This was accepted by those present, although the growers gave no commitment to supply the grain until a deal was agreed. The Chairman said the growers remain committed to the sector, but a pricing structure must be agreed which is fair and equitable for the primary producer.
While acknowledging the support provided during the drought conditions of the last harvest, Mark Browne called on the Irish drinks industry to support malting barley growers with sustainable prices. The latest Bord Bia report showed that Irish drink exports were worth €1.5 billion in 2018. Whiskey sales, in particular, have expanded by double digit figures for all export markets.
Mark Browne said it is unacceptable that this expansion and success is not reflected in the incomes of grain growers who continue to struggle on low margins. “Irish tillage farmers have been producing quality malting barley for generations, which is the foundation for the successful premium branding of Irish drinks products. Many of the drinks companies are part of the Bord Bia ‘Origin Green’ sustainability scheme and it is now time that they backed the financial sustainability of the Irish grain farmer”, he said.
IFA is concerned about the future of the Irish malting barley sector due to the spiralling costs of growing this premium crop. He said farmers want to continue to grow a crop which is Quality Assured and fully traceable, but they need to be adequately compensated for their effort.