Calls for Diageo to extend support to growers

Following the announcement yesterday, Wednesday, June 24, from Diageo that it would be rolling out a recovery fund for pubs and bars impacted by Covid-19, there are now calls for this support to be extended to growers.

Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), highlighted that: “Growers had made considerable investment in their malting barley before Covid-19 hit the drinks trade.

“Everybody is hoping the reopening next week goes smoothly, but growers cannot be left behind,” he added.

All stakeholders in the Irish drinks industry must recognise the ongoing effort and commitment which growers have put into malting barley. This has seen an expansion in the area sown.

“Notwithstanding the difficult market conditions, it’s imperative that drink companies do everything possible to back the primary producer in the supply chains,” Cullinan added.

Meanwhile, IFA grain chairperson Mark Browne said that dry weather conditions have had a “severe impact” on the tillage sector.

At best, many growers will have significant yield reductions, while in other situations, entire crops are a write-off.

“The situation is particularly critical right up through the midlands and into the east and northeast. Recent rain has been very welcome in these areas. For some, it has been too little, too late,” Browne stressed.

$100 million

Diageo, most commonly known as the maker of Guinness, announced a $100 million (€89 million) recovery fund yesterday, that is hoped will help pubs and bars recover after the Covid-19 lockdown.

The global programme, which is called ‘Raising the Bar’, will run over two years and will be available from 2020.

The programme plans to provide support to major hospitality centres – including Dublin and Belfast.

According to a statement from the company, the fund “will provide targeted support to help pay for the physical equipment needed for outlets to re-open”.