‘Take down the pictures of Irish farms in Guinness’ – malt meeting

Farmers were angry at the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) malting barley meeting on last night (Monday, February 11). They exclaimed how they had been “insulted” by Boortmalt which sent out two different price offers earlier that day, despite the fact that the IFA had not agreed to any deal.

The attendees then decided to reject the proposed deal and the offer made yesterday.

They then went on to express their anger at the lack of support from an industry that apparently prides itself on using Irish ingredients.

One member of the malting barley committee stated that Boortmalt had told the group that its customers are not prepared to pay anymore than the market price for malting barley and that it will import it from France if it can’t get it here.

The same member went on to say: “We need a premium for Irish barley.”

Also Read: Malting growers will not accept offer of €190/t from Boortmalt

Farmers will stop growing the crop

Chairperson of the committee Mark Browne made what sounded like a big statement. He explained that if farmers are not making a decent income they will have to stop growing the crop.

“There is definitely Irish barley needed in the supply chain and if we don’t supply it they can’t use Irish barley.

So, we would be closing the industry down, but I think at this stage growers are unhappy with the income that they’ve been getting for the past few years and it’s not much good to us.

“We’re looking for one last shot at this industry, that the customers and the suppliers pay us a decent price, so we can continue to supply a traditional, quality, premium product.”

‘Take down the pictures’

One farmer quoted his disappointment at a line from Guinness’ website which he thinks no longer rings true. He explained that the website reads as follows: ‘It begins with barley. Barley sown in Irish soil and malted behind our famous gates. It’s not an easy grain to grow, which is why we have relationships with farmers that span three generations.’

Another farmer asked for the IFA to request that the pictures of Irish farms on the walls of Guinness be taken down.

All breweries and distilleries under the spotlight

Diageo – which owns Guinness – was not the only company under the spotlight and the committee did state that it could pay a visit to many counties in Ireland to protest against the importation of malting barley, including counties Cork, Offaly and Carlow.

“There needs to be a sea-change in what the [understanding] of Irish drink is; what the Irish ingredients are and what it’s manufactured from, because that is the root cause of a lot of our problems; that a manufacturer can bring in grain or maize into this country, manufacture it and classify it as an Irish drink,” one member added.

“That to me is fundamentally wrong and we have to see something done about that – that the ingredients are listed on the front of a bottle or the front of a can.”