Concerns that Boortmalt will limit intakes of malting barley from contracted growers to 1.7t/ac have been expressed by tillage farmers.
Growers also fear that tighter specifications and a shift in demand from malting to distilling grade barley could result in as little as one-third of contracted tonnages being accepted for malting.
Malting barley contracts are traditionally based on an average yield of 3t/ac, but it has been suggested that contracts this year will be cut to 1.7t/ac.
This represents a reduction of more than 40pc in the tonnage of malting barley Boortmalt will take from farmers.
It is also reported by growers that the ratio of brewing quality barley to distilling quality barley sought by Boortmalt has been radically altered.
The ratio is traditionally 70:30 in favour of brewing, but this year Boortmalt is believed to be looking for around 60pc of intakes to meet distilling requirements.
Distilling barley has a maximum protein limit of 9.3pc, while the limit for brewing is 10.8pc.
Growers maintain that it will be extremely difficult for them to meet the lower protein specifications required for distilling standard barley.
A greater proportion of their crop will be rejected for malting as a consequence, they argue, and will have to be sold at feed barley prices.
In reply to queries from the Farming Independent Boortmalt stated: "The volume we expect to buy from the market is higher than the indication we gave in April."
However, the company added that the current trading environment remained "uncertain".
Regarding the share of distilling and malting quality barley that the company will require this year, Boortmalt pointed out that both sectors of the malting market had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It stated that "updates will be provided as the demand position clarifies over time".
Boortmalt generally processes around 120,000t of malting barley for the brewing and distilling industries at its site in Athy in Co Kildare. However, this could be significantly reduced this year.
The closure of pubs and restaurants across Europe for much of the last four months, and continued fears of a second wave of Covid-19, has hit sales for many of the country's major brewers, and therefore demand for malting barley.
Dairygold and Glanbia have guaranteed to take in all contracted tonnages of malting barley this year, despite the difficulties in the drinks industry.