Drinks companies need to back the Irish grain farmer – IFA

The chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) malting barley committee, Mark Browne, has called on the drinks industry to support the Irish tillage farmer who “has provided the foundation for the successful premium branding of Irish drinks products”.

The IFA stated today that: “Many of these 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.

It is unacceptable that this expansion and success is not reflected in the incomes of Irish grain growers who continue to struggle on low margins.

Browne commented on how the growth in the drinks industry needs to be reflected in the price paid for grain. He acknowledged support received in the drought conditions of last harvest, but added that “ongoing sustainable prices” are needed to support malting barley growers.

“The latest Bord Bia report on the drinks sector revealed that Irish drink exports were worth €1.5 billion in 2018, with Irish whiskey sales in particular having expanded in double-digit figures for all export markets.”

Met with Boortmalt

A meeting of the IFA’s malting barley committee took place on Friday, while several discussions have taken place between Boortmalt and the IFA since the last growers meeting.

The IFA stated that some progress has been made, but Browne confirmed that a deal has yet to be agreed and negotiations are still ongoing.

The IFA is still encouraging growers “to accept and plant their seed for this season”. This was accepted by growers at recent malting barley meetings. The IFA added that growers do not have to give a commitment to subsequently supply the grain until a deal is agreed.

Also Read: Malting growers will not accept offer of €190/t from Boortmalt

Need a fair and equitable deal

The chairman stated that the growers remain committed to the sector, but a deal has to be agreed which is fair and equitable for the primary producer.

The statement from the IFA concluded with a note of concern about the future of the Irish malting barley sector, due to the spiralling costs of growing this premium crop.

He said that Irish farmers wanted to continue to grow a crop which is quality assured and fully traceable but they needed to be adequately compensated to sustain the costs of production.