Malting barley pricing structure fails growers yet again – Irish Malt Growers

The malting barley pricing structure will fail to deliver a sustainable return to farmers in 2015 was the clear message from the Irish Malt Growers group at a recent meeting in Bunclody.

The group are calling for the establishment of new pricing structures. It says with the spring barley harvest edging ever closer malt growers are expecting to make a loss in 2015 due to the unfair pricing structure.

There are issues in the areas of rewards and specifications, they said. It highlighted that malt barley prices have fallen from €252 in 2012 to €147.50 in 2014.

At the meeting, the group also labelled the changes made to moisture and protein specifications in recent years as ‘disgraceful’, and said these changes have the potential to force more farmers out of the industry.

The group stated that the current pricing had failed Irish malt growers. They also said that a crop of 2.6t/ac at current pricing levels will not breakeven.

Tom Cushen, Chairman added that if this pricing structure remains in place some malt growers may be forced to consider other farming enterprises.

“At this year’s malting barley price growers would nearly be better off with two Holstein bull calves.”

He said that the group has one simple policy and that is to put more money in the farmer’s pockets.

“We have to get a better price, we are looking to 2016 as we can do nothing about the price this year.”

The groups Vice-Chairperson added that the recent changes in the pricing structure has reduced Boortmalt’s risk and placed all the risk on the grower.

Boortmalt have made a concentrated effort to put the risk on the growers. There are a lot of things wrong with our industry.

David Hendy also said that malt growers are entitled to have two organisations and that their presence at negotiations will benefit growers.

He added that it is important to have a credible pricing structure in place for malting barley.

“Farmers will not put up with this system of pricing anymore. Farmers can’t keep growing malting barley below their cost of production,” he said.

He also called for a concession on the moisture content early in the harvest as such a concession is of little use as the harvest ends.

The malting barley group is currently growing and hopes to have 300 members in the near future. There membership has increased to 190 members which represents a sizeable portion of the total 614 malting growers in Ireland.