There is huge grower disquiet regarding the details of the current Boortmalt malting barley contract, according to a representative of the Irish Grain Growers’ Group.
“The details of the new contract were rejected pretty much out of hand at the IFA meetings held in Wexford, Carlow and Kildare over recent days,” he said.
The crux of the issue is a requirement for individual growers to meet a 70:30 brewing/distilling split for the barley they grow this year.
“Moreover, growers will only receive a harvest price for the distilling barley which they do supply.”
He added: “Up to this point Boortmalt handled the brewing / distilling issue in house. And we see no reason as to why this arrangement should be changed.
“Teagasc research has confirmed that growers will have to significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen they apply to get anywhere near the 8.8% protein threshold for distilling barley.
“In the first instance, this will hit yields dramatically. But the Teagasc work also shows that, even with this approach being taken, there is only a 40% chance that growers will meet the distilling specification.”
Its members would also insist that the distilling threshold be increased so that growers can fill that part of their contracts.
“The craft distilling and beer sectors in Ireland are experiencing tremendous growth at the present time,” said the organisation’s representative.
“All of these positive developments should be reflected back to malting barley growers in terms of the price they receive for grain.”
Members of the Grain Growers’ Group do not want the IFA to roll over on these matters.
“That’s what we are afraid might happen,” he said.
“Our own committee will meet early next week to decide upon what action should be taken, in light of the offer made by Boortmalt.
“We are not a protest group, by nature. But, at this stage, all options are on the table – such is the level of annoyance felt by growers regarding the contract offer made by Boortmalt this year,” he said.