Further protests in the pipeline for Irish Grain Growers Group

The Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) staged another demonstration against the poor price for malting barley yesterday (November 14).

This time the group travelled to where some of the malt produced from their barley is used to produce Guinness – St. James’s Gate.

This is the second demonstration by the group in less than a month. Bobby Miller, IGGG chairman, spoke to AgriLand after the demonstration.

At the demonstration, the IGGG handed six letters into a member of staff outside of the Guinness storehouse. The letters were to be delivered to directors and managers at Diageo.

“We’re very content with how the day went. Over 100 growers turned up on the day, which reflects the frustration that’s out there among growers.

They are all willing to return again if this doesn’t move along – that was the general consensus today. This has to move along quite swiftly.

The group demonstrated as a result of the harvest price, of €154.80/t for malting barley, paid by Boortmalt to its growers. The public are beginning to take note of the situation in the malting industry, according to the IGGG.

“A few tourists passed by, took pictures and were interested in what we had to say. Today was about highlighting the situation and trying to get the public on our side.

This is an international company and a brand of Ireland; we’ve helped to support and to build that brand. It’s frustrating to have to go to Guinness. We’ve been ignored by Boortmalt.

“There are many other factors affecting tillage farmers at the moment, including: Glyphosate; the GM debate; and chemical use.

“We don’t want to be seen as a one-trick pony. Malting barley is taking the headlines at the minute but we represent all grain growers.

“The tillage sector is under severe pressure at this stage and it’s no longer economically sustainable into the future. Boortmalt needs to have a serious look at itself if it’s interested in working with farmers into the future.

Diageo must take responsibility as well. Diageo’s profits were up by about 25% in 2016 and we’re only looking for 0.10-0.15% of the price of the pint.

“The IFA have to produce the memorandum of agreement between Boortmalt and the IFA. All growers are entitled to see that agreement and the code of conduct that’s signed on behalf of growers. All growers are entitled to see the rules that they are governed by.

Miller stated that the groups will demonstrate again. The IGGG would like to see response before farmers begin to prepare for next year’s crop.

“We will demonstrate again – sooner rather than later – if nothing happens; there’s a time scale involved and farmers have to start forward planning for next year’s crops.

Someone will have to take action immediately. We will be back to the storehouse if things don’t move along.

Diageo statement

Diageo released a statement to AgriLand in response to the IGGG protesting outside of St. James’s Gate.

Diageo does not buy grain from growers, but purchases finished malt from malting companies.

“It has no role whatsoever in negotiations regarding the price of malting barley. This is a matter for growers and malting companies. Nor does Diageo set the price of a pint in pubs.”

The statement continued: “Diageo has always been supportive of Irish farmers and farming in Ireland and will continue to be.

As the largest buyer of Irish malting barley, Diageo understands and appreciates the work by Boortmalt, in conjunction with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), to protect growers from global price variances.

“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 malting barley.”