Grain men protest at Glanbia's head office

Grain farmers at the protest outside Glanbia headquarters in Kilkenny.Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Grain farmers at the protest outside Glanbia headquarters in Kilkenny.Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Grain farmers gathered outside Glanbia's headquarters in Kilkenny yesterday to protest over prices paid by the co-op for the 2015 harvest.

IFA president Eddie Downey accused Glanbia of short-changing hard-pressed tillage farmers by paying a price that lagged competitors.

He said a shareholder fund was set up specifically to support growers through difficult periods when incomes are under pressure due to low commodity prices or other extreme events, but that it was never envisaged the fund would be used to subvent prices which are shy of the prevailing market price paid by others.

IFA grain chairman Liam Dunne said growers have also been angered by a number of contract changes unilaterally imposed by Glanbia, including the imposition of cuts to the premium for Sturm contract oats, changes from 52kph to 54kph on the bushel weight standard, a further €10/t reduction for gluten free oats, and an insistence of a minimum field size of 20ac.

Mr Dunne said that Glanbia's grain-drying charges at €36/t are also well out of line with the norm and these costs are going to have to be reduced as part of ensuring that competitive forward-selling grain opportunities are provided to growers.

In response, Glanbia's agribusiness boss, Colm Eustace, claimed that the market prices set at harvest represented an optimistic view of the prevailing markets.

"While our market prices have attracted considerable commentary, it should be acknowledged that over 40pc of our total intake now attracts €2m in premiums and bonuses. "This is a far higher proportion of overall grain contracted than any other merchant in the country," he said.

He added that the company was the best oat buyer in the country, having paid €188/t for gluten free oats with free harvesting, €164/t for standard oats, and €140/t for equine oats, and €120/t for non-contracted oats.

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He said that Glanbia paid a market leading price of €162/t for malting barley and that 20pc of winter barley attracted prices of up to €155/t at 20pc moisture through their forward-selling options.

Glanbia shareholders receive a co-op bonus of €5/t if they meet certain trading criteria.

The co-op plans grower meetings to promote forward marketing of grain.

Glanbia also offers growers the opportunity to contract dry and store their grain using Glanbia grain handling facilities, despite a very small proportion of farmers availing of this facility in the current year.

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