IFA and Boortmalt meet, following last week’s ‘protest’ at Waterford Port

Members of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Boortmalt held a meeting last night, Tuesday, August 11, following on from an agreement made on Friday, August 7, after the IFA obstructed the unloading of a boat of malt at Waterford Port.

President of the IFA Tim Cullinan, Damien McDonald (CEO), Mark Browne (Grain Committee chairperson) and Pat Farrell (grain executive) spoke with Boortmalt’s Yvan Schaepman (Group CEO) and Peter Nallen (chief operations and agriculture officer).

The IFA released a statement to AgriLand following the meeting.

Tim Cullinan described the “huge pressure” on tillage farmers this year, due to poor yields and broken harvest conditions.

“In this environment, growers will react angrily to any actions which could undermine the sector,” he said.

The statement acknowledged the negative impact Covid-19 is having on the drinks sector, but Cullinan emphasised that Boortmalt must maximise its intake of Irish barley.

“Growers had made considerable investment in their malting barley crop again this season,” he stated.

All stakeholders in the Irish drinks industry must recognise the ongoing effort and commitment which growers have put into producing quality malting barley.

“This has seen an expansion in the area sown. Notwithstanding the difficult market conditions, it’s imperative that Boortmalt and its customers do everything possible to back the primary producer in the supply chain,” he said.

Importantly, IFA Grain Committee chairperson Mark Browne acknowledged the significant investment by Boortmalt in doubling its malting capacity in Athy and outlined how this shows the company’s “long-term commitment to Irish growers”.

The Boortmalt CEO apparently acknowledged current issues in the sector…and reiterated the company’s commitment to “use 100% Irish malting barley when possible”.

“Despite the current market environment, it is the company’s intention to maximise its intake of malting barley, subject to complying with our food safety and quality specifications – this harvest,” he said.

He reportedly assured the IFA that the company is in ongoing discussions with its customers regarding the parameters of the Irish harvest this season.

“Boortmalt would be seeking derogations on specifications if required and where possible,” he said.

Obstruction at Waterford Port

The meeting came in the wake of an IFA demonstration last Friday. Three members of the IFA obstructed the unloading of a shipment of malt at Waterford Port, while other members staged a demonstration outside the port.

Also Read: Stand-off at Waterford Port: Boortmalt claims the grain is ‘Irish’

Boortmalt issued a statement to AgriLand that afternoon which read: “Boortmalt is currently commissioning new and rebuilt plants in Athy, but as part of the continuous supply agreements with our Irish customers we exported some Irish barley for malting in Antwerp.

Also Read: Incident at Boortmalt site this afternoon

“We are now importing the malt, produced from Irish barley, for our customers through Waterford.”