Irish Malt Growers (IMG) will become an active stakeholder organisation within the malting barley sector, according to the new pressure group’s Chairman Tom Cushen.

“And this means having an active input into the setting of future contract prices,” he said.

“Members have not yet decided on how this matter will be approached. Our primary objective is to attract as many malting barley growers into our ranks as possible.”

Cushen pointed out that arguments over a €7/t additional payment for out-of-contract barley was the catalyst leading to the formation of IMG.

“As last year’s harvest was coming to an end Boormalt offered growers an additional €7/t for barley that was not covered in the supply contracts agreed for 2014,” he said.

“Growers felt that, under the circumstances, the company should have retrospectively offered the same €7 on all the barley they supplied last year. Boormalt refused to budge on the issue.

“This was the last straw for growers, who were already deeply unhappy at the prices built into the 2014 supply contracts. Protests then followed last autumn outside Boormalt’s headquarters and the Guinness brewery. ”

Cushen confirmed that the new organisation has already attracted 180 members from counties Wexford, Laois, Carlow and Kildare.

“Our aim is to grow this figure to around 330 over the coming months, which will work out at around two thirds of the malting barley growers in Ireland,” he said.

Cushen said that malting barley prices for this year are ranging between €160/t and €170/t.

“In reality, growers need to be getting around €200/t in order to remain viable,” he said.

“With every year that passes, malting barley growers are expected to attain ever exacting quality standards. They must be paid accordingly and we fully intend making this point in the very clearest terms to Boormalt.”