Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

IFA deny any 'serious problem' with malting barley contracts

Farmers have begun sowing barley this week.
Farmers have begun sowing barley this week.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The IFA has denied there is a "serious problem" with the Boortmalt malting barley contract as growers begin sowing this week.

Liam Dunne, the IFA's grain committee chairman, said a pricing arrangement had been agreed before Christmas to allow greater forward selling opportunities. Mr Dunne said Boortmalt are still involved in the selling arrangements for some malt, after making arrangements with growers.

"In a developing situation, there wasn't and still isn't any serious problem," he said.

Mr Dunne said everyone was "happy" with it, including the stakeholders and the IFA.

He said growers were getting some exceptionally good prices as high as €176/t in forward selling options.

However, the Irish Grain Growers Association (IGAA), said there was a "serious problem" as there was a "material change" in the contract that had been agreed late last year.

Bobby Miller from the IGGA, formerly the Irish Malt Growers Association, pointed out it was now suggested that 25pc of the contract tonnes would be paid at a surplus price to be set by Boortmalt after harvest.

Mr Miller pointed out growers had "agreed a deal and forward sold grain on the strength" of the agreement reached late last year and they rejected the changes.

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Mr Dunne said farmers were being kept informed and a new malting barley chair would be elected shortly.

Another issue that has been emerging on the IFA hustings is the collection of levies, with the IFA stating farmers will be able to claim their levy back.

"A levy of 38c per tonne is collected each year. 19c goes to IFA to help fund its administration and negotiations on malting barley. This contribution is voluntary and can be reclaimed," said Mr Dunne.

He pointed out 19c is spent on research and development of the crop through programmes with Teagasc and UCD, which Boortmalt also contribute towards. He said no monies go towards the IFA's Ifarm which promotes farm-to-farm selling.

Mr Miller said farmers wanted the levy to be made optional before the monies are paid out of grain cheques. "IFA are only adding to the red tape that farmers have to tolerate by asking growers to reclaim the levy if they so wish," he said, pointing out that other sectors are allowed opt-in or opt-out.

"Boortmalt are currently asking non-contract farmers to grow malting barley for them as traditional growers are reducing their acreage dedicated to malting barley. This is the biggest indicator that all is not well in the malting barley sector," said Mr Miller.

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