No barley until deal is done…is Irish barley important enough?

Malting barley growers will not supply barley to Boortmalt until they are happy with a deal.

That was the main message coming from last night’s (March 19) malting barley meeting at the Farm Centre in Enniscorthy.

Chairperson of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Malting Barley Committee Mark Browne stated: “The companies want to get their supply guaranteed and we can’t guarantee a supply when there’s no deal done.

If we stick to that we’ll figure out whether our barley is important enough or not for the supply chain.

Barley will not be supplied

Browne stated that he hopes that a deal will be reached in the coming week or two, but farmers will not agree to supply grain until a deal is reached.

“The grain cannot be contracted to Boortmalt until there’s a deal done. If growers stick by that, well then I think we will get this deal across the line.

The agreement has to be finalised. That’s the only way the barley will be contracted.

Want a premium for Irish barley

Many farmers at the meeting were still asking for a minimum price of €200/t for their product and were adamant that they would not sign contracts until they are happy with a deal.

“We’re asking for a premium for Irish grain and that’s the bit we’re not getting,” Browne explained.

He went on to describe how Irish farmers are providing a fully traceable product, something he claims cannot be guaranteed from grain off a boat.

“We’re giving a full track and trace of grain and all of the big company’s now want to know where it’s been grown; where it’s been sown; what’s been put on it.

From the day it’s sown to the day it’s delivered they want the full journey of it. We can offer that from the field to the bin, through the depots.

“You don’t get that with a ship of barley, while it might be approved and guaranteed it hasn’t got the same traceability as our grain has and we have to be paid for that as well.”

Price needs to reflect effort

Browne continued on to say that the price needs to reflect extra work involved with the crop and extra costs, such as a higher seed price.

“This is why we’re holding out. I’m glad the floor is unanimous on that – that we want to be paid for Irish, quality, premium malting barley,” he added.

The committee moved this week’s meeting to Co. Wexford to give growers who had not yet attended a meeting a chance to hear about the proposed pricing structure and to have their say on the matter.