‘€200/t minimum for Irish grain’

The Irish Grain Growers Group (IGGG) has called on grain merchants to offer a minimum of €200/t for Irish feed grain this harvest, as the drought puts severe pressure on tillage farmers.

The group stated that “merchants will be anxious to fill their sheds” with quality grain.

Commenting on the traceability of Irish grain, the group questioned the promotion of native grain. It asks if Bord Bia is promoting Irish grain like it does for lamb, beef and dairy.

The IGGG also posed these three questions:
  • How is IGAS (Irish Grain Assurance Scheme) benefiting Irish tillage farmers?
  • How stringent is the policing of imported fodder and grain?
  • Will the malsters have to take the initiative themselves to secure a supply of Irish grain in 2019?

Malting barley

The IGGG went on to say: “The malsters must be first to act to secure a supply of grain for the fast growing brewing and distilling industry.

“Diageo/Guinness announced a 4c rise on the pint this week. Can we as growers assume that some of the funds from the price-rise will be funnelled to farmers? The reality is that they must.”

The IGGG believes the following steps must be taken – pre-harvest – by maltsters to encourage the future of the malting sector in Ireland:
  • Farmers should be given the option to agree a price for grain on the day of delivery. This is to avoid the possible consequences of a world trade war;
  • Change to specifications at delivery including: the brewing protein cut-off level to be increased to 12%; and the distilling protein cut-off level to be increased to 10.2%;
  • Remove the 70:30 element to contracts, where growers must deliver at least 30% of Boortmalt-contracted grain as distilling grade.

“A show of support, for the grain farmer, should be reflected in a substantial rise in the price paid for malting barley, especially with the continued boom in the whiskey and spirits industry,” the group added.

“Distilleries are now realising and educating themselves to the fact that farmers need to be paid a sustainable price for malting barley in order to secure a supply of fully-traceable, quality Irish grain.

We believe the industry is well capable of paying a minimum of €240/t (excluding VAT) at 20% moisture for brewing grade barley and a minimum of €270/t for distilling grade barley.

The IGGG estimates that grain growers receive 1% of the retail price of a pint and that the Government receives 29% of the price. The group asked: “Who gets the other 70%?”

“The latest effort by Boortmalt and the IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) just reiterates our belief that the IFA is more interested in putting a cap on all Irish grain prices, rather than reward what is a traceable, premium product.

“On average, winter (grain) crops are going to outperform malting barley as regards a profit margin per acre once again.”