Grain growers call for fixed-price scheme for 2019 malting barley

A fixed-price scheme for malting barley in 2019 and a barley forum has been called for by the Irish Grain Growers’ Group (IGGG) to “improve relationships” between farmers and buyers of malting barley.

Regarding this year’s produce, buyers of malting barley should offer a payment of €40-50 over feed barley for the 2018 harvest if they are serious about using Irish grain, the group has said.

This would go some way towards resolving what has developed into a “poor relationship between farmers and malting barley buyers”, especially in a year when yields are poor, according to the lobby group.

The IGGG has claimed that, under the previous deal which was in place between Boortmalt and the Irish Farmers’ Association, a large proportion of farmers decided to sell their barley to other merchants offering more money as a feed use.

This has lead to the importation of even more malting barley that may not have the same traceability standards applied to it, the group contends.

Putting forward a potential solution, the IGGG has suggested that a buyer company should take the lead and offer an attractive “fixed price” for the 2019 harvest to farmers at present, considering the huge interest in winter cropping.

This could allow time for farmers to rethink their cropping plan and may sway farmers back to the tradition of growing malting on their land.

It would be an unprecedented move which farmers would welcome, the organisation contends.

“With the phenomenal growth of Irish whiskey at present, craft brewing on the rise and long-established breweries on the island, it’s time all players in the industry get just reward and work together to really push the industry forward,” the growers said in a statement.

The industry could loose a key marketing tool if the suppliers of the raw material are pushed away from business.

Malting forum?

In its concluding remarks, the IGGG added that a forum for malting, brewing and distilling could be key to remedying what it sees as the faults in Irish tillage at present.